AMA: Asks Feds To Challenge Aetna-Prudential Deal
In an unprecedented move, the American Medical Association has asked the Justice Department to challenge Aetna Inc.'s billion-dollar purchase of Prudential Health Care Co., charging that it "would limit the choices of patients and employers, reduce competition and further erode the ability of physicians to make medical decisions based on science and the medical needs of their patients, not share price." The Wall Street Journal reports that the letter to the Justice Department, "which stopped short of explicitly saying the AMA opposed the deal, marked the first time the association ... has ever taken such an action over a proposed health care merger." Many physicians are worried about a larger and more dominant Aetna, as the company has been "a lighting rod for doctors' complaints about managed care" due to its tough take-it-or-leave-it negotiating stance. The Justice Department and Prudential declined comment on the letter, but Aetna Chair and CEO Richard Huber "said the ... deal wouldn't make Aetna too dominant, giving it a market share ranging from as high as 30% in areas of Texas and New Jersey to single-digit percentages" in the Carolinas. He charged, "There's a certain group of doctors that will never come to accept managed care," and noted that the company has revamped physician contracts and rolled out an electronic claims system to speed doctor reimbursement (Jeffrey, 12/21).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.