Weekend update

Congress remains in session on Capitol Hill this week. The Week in Congress has not updated its page for last week yet. Lo siento.

Bloomberg reported last week that Cigna has confirmed that the U.S. Justice Department is reviewing its proposed merger with Express Scripts for anti-trust law compliance. This comes as no surprise to the FEHBlog because of the size of the deal, among other factors.  Here’s the interesting angle which affects all of the healthcare mergers now pending, e.g., CVS Health / Aetna, Walmart / Humana:

[These] deals are so-called vertical transactions that combine companies operating in different parts of the same industry: health insurance and pharmacy benefit management. For years, such mergers have been approved by antitrust enforcers with conditions on how the firms conduct business in order to remedy any harm to competition from the tie-ups. 

But the Justice Department’s antitrust chief, Makan Delrahim, has taken a tough stand against those kind of settlements, arguing they force antitrust officials to become regulators who need to monitor the effectiveness of the agreements. That position led to his lawsuit last year against AT&T Inc.’s proposed acquisition of Time Warner Inc.

U.S. District Judge Richard Leon is now holding a bench trial in the federal government’s lawsuit to block the AT&T acquisition here in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The government has rested its case, and the defendants now are presenting their case.  Here is a link to the Wall Street Journal’s page on this important trial.

Health Payer Intelligence offers an interesting take on how Blue Cross of Michigan is approaching the task of bundling payments to providers. Have a look at your convenience.