Bob Herman Jan 23, 2017
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Court strikes down Aetna-Humana merger
AP file photo

A federal judge has ruled against the proposed merger of Aetna and Humana, arguing the deal is "likely to substantially lessen competition" in health insurance markets nationwide.

The decision in favor of the Department of Justice by Judge John Bates surprised many financial analysts, who were confident the deal would get approval since Aetna agreed to sell some of its business to another insurer, Molina Healthcare. But the ruling is a major win for consumer groups, economists and antitrust officials, as well as hospitals and doctors, who feared the deal would raise health insurance premiums.

An Aetna spokesman said the company is "reviewing the opinion now and giving serious consideration to an appeal after putting forward a compelling case."