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Internists applaud decision by DOJ to oppose health insurance mergers

(Washington, July 21, 2016) The American College of Physicians (ACP) is pleased with today's announcement by Attorney General Loretta Lynch that the Department of Justice will oppose the proposed mergers between Anthem-Cigna and Aetna-Humana, which posed a grave anti-competitive risk to the health insurance market. ACP expressed its concerns in a letter to Assistant Attorney General William Baer in December 2015, stating that the proposed mergers could lead to significant increases in insurer concentration, decreased choice and increased costs for patients and employers, and a reduction in physician ability to negotiate with insurance companies over provision of services.

ACP is the largest medical specialty organization and the second-largest physician group in the U.S.  ACP members include 148,000 internal medicine physicians (internists), related subspecialists, and medical students.

ACP said that the consolidation of four of the largest health insurance companies into two entities posed a threat to the spirit of competition in the health insurance market, which could have an adverse effect on physicians and patients as stated in an ACP policy on insurance mergers in 2015. Today’s decision is also an important factor in maintaining some level of competition among Medicare Advantage plans, for which the majority of markets are already highly concentrated.

“The American College of Physicians has voiced significant concerns about the pending mergers between Aetna-Humana and Anthem-Cigna and the potential negative effects they could have on competition in the health insurance market,” said Nitin S. Damle, MD, MS, FACP, ACP president.   “ACP applauds the Department of Justice in its decision which will encourage continued quality care for patients and a fair practice environment for physicians in diverse communities across the country."

Attorney General Loretta Lynch stated that the proposed consolidation "would fundamentally reshape the health insurance industry." Assistant Attorney General William Baer stated in his remarks that the investigation found that proposed mergers are "likely to harm competition that currently benefits seniors, working families, individuals, employers, the previously uninsured or under-insured, and doctors and hospitals."

“As a practicing primary care internist myself” said Dr. Damle, “I am relieved that the DOJ will block Aetna's acquisition of Humana and Anthem's takeover of Cigna. These deals would result in higher prices and less competition and ultimately result in a strain on patients, both in their choice of insurance provider and in the cost that would be passed on to them.”

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The American College of Physicians is the largest medical specialty organization and the second-largest physician group in the United States. ACP members include 148,000 internal medicine physicians (internists), related subspecialists, and medical students. Internal medicine physicians are specialists who apply scientific knowledge and clinical expertise to the diagnosis, treatment, and compassionate care of adults across the spectrum from health to complex illness. Follow ACP on Twitter and Facebook.

Contact: Laura Baldwin, (215) 351-2668, lbaldwin@acponline.org