CVS Health bought Aetna in a deal worth $78 billion. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Federal judge Richard Leon is raising antitrust concerns about CVS Health's $78 billion takeover of Aetna, but legal experts say he simply doesn't have authority to nix the deal.

Why it matters: The biggest companies in health care keep getting bigger, and critics fear anticompetitive effects — but nothing has actually slowed the industry's rapid consolidation.

Driving the news: A New York Post article claimed Leon "appears to be nearing a surprise move to block" the CVS-Aetna deal. But that isn't quite accurate.

  • "[Leon] can't stop the deal because it's already happened," said Joe Krauss, a former antitrust attorney at the Federal Trade Commission now at Hogan Lovells.

Details: CVS and Aetna completed their transaction last November. To satisfy antitrust concerns, the Department of Justice required Aetna to sell its Medicare prescription drug plans.

Where it stands: Leon can either approve that settlement, or "he can say the remedy was insufficient," said Andrea Agathoklis Murino, a former DOJ antitrust attorney now at Goodwin Procter. But he can't undo the merger.

  • If Leon rejects the settlement, DOJ would likely appeal or negotiate a new remedy with CVS and Aetna.
  • DOJ also could order CVS and Aetna to unwind their merger, but that process is messy, and it's never happened under the type of proceedings happening here.

Between the lines: The settlement — making Aetna sell its Medicare drug plans — wouldn't materially change the market share for those policies, nor does it address concerns of combining health insurance and drug benefits.

  • "This is a highly consolidated market," said Mike Landis, litigation director for the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, which opposed the merger. "We hope DOJ will see the light."

Go deeper: Read the transcripts of this month's CVS-Aetna proceedings.

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Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) declared a state of emergency Monday as Zeta strengthened into a hurricane and threatened Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula as it moved towards the U.S. Gulf Coast.

The state of play: Zeta was expected to make landfall on the northern part of the Yucatan Peninsula Monday night, bringing with it a "dangerous storm surge" and "heavy rainfall" as it moved into the Gulf of Mexico, the National Hurricane Service said.

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Supreme Court rejects request to extend Wisconsin absentee ballot deadline

Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The Supreme Court in a 5-3 decision Monday rejected an effort by Wisconsin Democrats and civil rights groups to extend the state's deadline for counting absentee ballots to six days after Election Day, as long as they were postmarked by Nov. 3.

Why it matters: All ballots must now be received by 8 p.m. on Election Day in Wisconsin, a critical swing state in the presidential election.