Aetna, Justice Department officials meet over steps payer is taking to address anticompetitive concerns: 5 notes

Last week, Aetna executives met with Justice Department antitrust officials to discuss steps the payer is taking to address anticompetitive concerns related to its Humana merger, according to The New York Times.

Here are five notes:

1. Aetna plans to sell billion-dollar assets to stifle regulatory concerns over its $37 billion Humana merger. Sources familiar with the payer matter claim Aetna and advisers are working on an asset portfolio that could limit any substantial overlap between Aetna and Humana's operations if the assets are divested.

2. Aetna and Humana's deal would merge two of the largest Medicare Advantage plan providers, and investors are worried antitrust regulators may work to dismantle the payer merger.

3. The Justice Department's Antitrust Division is evaluating Aetna and Humana's merger as well as Anthem's $44 billion proposed Cigna merger. Opposition may be likely as both mergers would truncate the number of leading, national payers from five payers to three payers, if approved.

4. Aetna told Justice Department top officials the payer's asset sells would amend possible competition problems resulting from the merger. Additionally, Aetna said various large payers are interested in purchasing their assets. WellCare Health Plans and Centene both made offers for Medicare Advantage plans that Aetna is divesting.

5. At this point, it remains uncertain whether Justice Department antirust regulators will go through with a complaint that would impede the deal, or if Aetna's asset sales will be enough to squash such concerns, allowing the payers to move forward with the deal, according to The New York Times.

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