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CVS Health-Aetna merger gets conditional DOJ approval

BY David Salazar

CVS Health has been given the Department of Justice’s approval for its proposed acquisition of health insurer Aetna — with one condition. The DOJ’s clearance came with the requirement that Aetna divest its standalone Medicare Part D prescription drug plans — a move that already has been announced, with WellCare Health Plans set to take over the plans, which have roughly 2.2 million members. Under the agreement with WellCare, Aetna will administrate and retain financial results from the plans through 2019.

“DOJ clearance is an important step toward bringing together the strengths and capabilities of our two companies to improve the consumer healthcare experience,” said CVS Health president and CEO Larry J. Merlo. “We are pleased to have reached an agreement with the DOJ that maintains the strategic benefits and value creation potential of our combination with Aetna. We are now working to complete the remaining state reviews.”

CVS Health noted that several state regulatory approvals have already been granted, and that the acquisition is now on track to close in the early part of the fourth quarter of 2018. Once the merger is complete, Aetna will operate as a standalone business within CVS Health’s enterprise, led by current members of its management team.

“CVS Health and Aetna have the opportunity to combine capabilities in technology, data and analytics to develop new ways to engage patients in their total health and wellness.” Merlo said. “Our focus will be at the local and community level, taking advantage of our thousands of locations and touchpoints throughout the country to intervene with consumers to help predict and prevent potential health problems before they occur. Together, we will help address the challenges our health care system is facing, and we’ll be able to offer better care and convenience at a lower cost for patients and payers.”

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