Ky. insurance commissioner approves Humana-Aetna merger


LOUISVILLE (AP) — Aetna’s plan to take over Louisville-based health care giant Humana has been approved, officials said.

The news emerged Wednesday after Kentucky Insurance Commissioner Brian Maynard was asked to explain the approval and why the agency proceeded without first holding a planned public hearing, The Courier-Journal reported.

“After thorough review by internal financial staff and outside economists, we found no reason to deny or delay the approval. Our review concluded there would be no adverse impact on consumers,” Maynard said in a statement.

State records show Maynard signed an order of approval Feb. 3.

Late last summer, Kentucky’s insurance department contracted William Custer, director of Georgia State University’s Center for Health Services Research, and Robert Klein, an associate professor and director of that university’s Center for Risk Management and Insurance, to analyze the competitive implications of the deal.

Both also were enlisted to examine the proposed merger of competing health insurers Anthem and Cigna in Kentucky.

“We are still working on reviewing these (four companies’) mergers … we sent the Department of Insurance our summary statement on the Aetna-Humana merger last week and are in the process of sending the full report,” Custer said in an email to The Courier-Journal.

In an emailed statement Thursday, the agency said that there was no need to await a final report.

“While the final report had not been submitted at the time of approval, a summary had been provided and (the department) was aware of the items to be contained in the final report. There were no red flags or issues of concern raised by the economists.”

Last year, former insurance commissioner Sharon Clark announced plans to hold a hearing. Maynard said the hearing was dropped because it would have taken more time and created an additional expense.

Aetna, of Hartford, Connecticut, announced last July an agreement to buy Humana, which employs about 13,000 people in the region and another 2,700 contractors. The $37 billion deal will create the country’s second-largest managed care company.

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