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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The Delaware court that oversaw the trial between Anthem and Cigna over their botched health insurance merger expects to making a ruling on the lawsuit by the end of this month, Cigna CEO David Cordani told investors Thursday.

Why it matters: Whatever the resolution is, shareholders and people who get health insurance through the losing company ultimately will be stomaching a very large payout.

Where it stands: Anthem is alleging that Cigna owes $20 billion in damages, and Cigna is alleging that Anthem owes $13 billion in damages plus another $1.85 billion in merger termination fees.

Between the lines: Cordani told investors during Cigna's earnings call that the court will make a decision by the end of February, and said "we feel very strong about our position relative to our contractual responsibility and contractual ability to collect our break fee."

  • Anthem did not respond to a request for comment. But Cordani's mention of the $1.85 billion termination fee, and not the larger damages, raises questions about whether the court will put much weight to either company's claims of damages.

The bottom line: This is one of the wildest corporate fights in health care — a spat that involved accusations of sabotage and stealing health insurance customers.

  • Anthem and Cigna are still extremely profitable, with each insurer reporting 2019 earnings of about $5 billion.
  • But if either company has to pay maximum damages, multiyear profits would be erased, and employers and consumers who played no role in the feud could be on the hook for higher health care premiums and fees to make up for any payout.

Go deeper

The hard math behind America's labor shortage

Data: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Congressional Budget Office; Chart: Axios Visuals

Yes, the pandemic has created unusual temporary labor market dynamics. But in the bigger picture, the 2010s were a golden age for companies seeking cheap labor. The 2020s are not.

The big picture: In the 2010s, the massive millennial generation was entering the workforce, the massive baby bo0m generation was still hard at work, and there was a multi-year hangover from the deep recession caused by the global financial crisis.

Advocates fret Roe v. Wade's 49th anniversary could be its last

Photo: Leigh Vogel/Getty Images for Women's March Inc

As Saturday marks the 49th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court's landmark decision that legalized abortion access in the U.S., advocates warn the ruling is "more at risk now than ever."

The big picture: The Supreme Court in December heard a challenge to a Mississippi 15-week abortion ban that could throw Roe's survival into question, or at least narrow its scope.

Updated 15 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Health: FDA OKs antiviral drug remdesivir for non-hospitalized COVID patients — Walensky: CDC language "pivoting" on "fully vaccinated" — Pfizer and Moderna boosters overwhelmingly prevent Omicron hospitalizations, CDC finds.
  2. Vaccines: The case for Operation Warp Speed 2.0 — Teens and adults missed 37 million vaccinations during COVID — Team USA 100% vaccinated against COVID ahead of Beijing Olympics — Starbucks drops worker vaccine or test requirement after SCOTUS ruling — Kids' COVID vaccination rates are particularly low in rural America.
  3. Politics: Arizona governor sues Biden administration over COVID funds tied to mandates — Biden concedes U.S. should have done more testing — Arizona says it "will not be intimidated" by Biden on anti-mask school policies.
  4. World: American Airlines flight to London forced to turn around over mask dispute — WHO: COVID health emergency could end this year — Greece imposes vaccine mandate for people 60 and older — Austria approves COVID vaccine mandate for adults.
  5. Variant tracker