Aetna warned it would drop out of Obamacare exchanges if its merger was blocked

From The Washington Post:

Insurance giant Aetna’s announcement this week it would sharply curb its participation in the insurance exchanges set up under the Affordable Care Act was seen by some as payback to the Obama Administration for blocking its proposed merger with Humana. After all, in April, Aetna chief executive Mark Bertolini had called selling insurance in the exchanges “a good investment.”

Energy and Commerce ranking member Rep. Frank Pallone (D–N.J.) issued a statement Tuesday saying he was “troubled by reports this announcement could be in retaliation” to the Justice Department’s decision. Earlier this month, after Aetna announced in an earnings call this month that it was reevaluating its participation in the exchanges, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D–Mass.) wrote on Facebook: “The health of the American people should not be used as bargaining chips to force the government to bend to one giant company’s will.”

Now, a letter obtained by the Huffington Post through a Freedom of Information Act shows that the company’s chief executive clearly explained to Justice Department officials in early July that if the merger were to be challenged or blocked, “we would need to take immediate actions to mitigate public exchange and ACA small group losses.”

Aetna chief executive Mark Bertolini clearly spells out what that means. Aetna would withdraw from many insurance exchanges, limiting its participation to no more than 10 states in 2017, rather than the 20 it had been planning.

“Finally, based on our analysis to date, we believe it is very likely that we would need to leave the public exchange business entirely and plan for additional business inefficiencies should our deal ultimately be blocked,” Bertolini wrote. “By contrast, if the deal proceeds without the diverted time and energy associated with litigation, we would explore how to devote a portion of the …

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