U.S. Judge Approves CVS-Aetna Merger

Written by Haley Alber

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September 5, 2019

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A federal judge on Wednesday formally approved the merger of CVS Health (NYSE: CVS) and U.S. health insurer Aetna, Inc.

Judge Richard Leon of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia signed off on the near USD 70 Billion deal after evaluating complaints that the merger would harm consumers. The transaction officially brings together one of America’s largest healthcare insurers and one of the largest pharmacy benefit managers.

Last year, the Justice Department approved the deal on the condition that the companies sell Aetna’s Medicare drug business to preserve competition. In November CVS completed its divestiture of the business to a subsidiary of WellCare Health Plans, Inc. (NYSE: WCG).

“CVS Health and Aetna have been one company since November 2018, and today’s action by the district court makes that 100 percent clear. We remain focused on transforming the consumer health care experience in America,” CVS said in a statement.

Critics of the newly approved deal include the American Medical Association and the AIDS Healthcare Foundation.

“Despite an unprecedented review that dragged many details of this merger into the light, today’s decision ultimately fails patients, will likely raise prices, lower quality, reduce choice, and stifle innovation,” said AMA President Patrice A. Harris, M.D., M.A.

CVS has been in the process of converting itself into a healthcare company. In June, the pharmacy chain said it will offer expanded health services through its new HealthHub store concept. Over the next two years the company plans to open 1,500 HealthHub stores which offer services like nutritional counseling and BMI screening.

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