AETNA/PRUDENTIAL DEAL: May Have Smooth Road Ahead
The intended merger between Aetna Inc. and Prudential Health Care Plan of California Inc. appears to have no major obstacles blocking it, the San Francisco Business Times reports. At a public hearing last week, the Department of Corporations heard testimony from "a range of involved parties," but none "voiced major opposition." The Business Times reports that the greatest concern for the San Francisco area was the impact the merger could have on Prudential patients and doctors "who depend on their business from an ever-shrinking pool of insurance plans." The California Medical Association raised some concerns "partly because their doctors will be forced to accept both the PPO and HMO plans under Aetna." Medical groups that would be affected by the merger, however, "showed no hesitation in supporting" it. Dr. Michael Abel of Brown & Toland Medical Group, "for whom Aetna will become the third largest of 12 plans," said, "Our market reality has been one of consolidations and mergers on the hospital and health plan side. ... If we're to take advantage of the best managed care has to offer, we need to allow a natural evolution of the market" (Bole, 3/15 issue). CMA spokesperson Hobie Swan questioned the Business Times' report that no one voiced major opposition to the merger, noting that the CMA testified that the merger should be blocked. He said an organization that represents 35,000 doctors does not constitute no one (CHL interview, 3/17).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.