Judge Richard Leon of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia had threatened to delay or kill the merger in December over antitrust concerns. The American Medical Association, among others, had expressed concerns about the deal.
The U.S. Department of Justice had insisted that Aetna sell its 2.2-million-member Medicare Part D drug plan to WellCare Health Plans (NYSE:WCG). That deal has already closed, and Centene has since agreed to acquire WellCare for $15.27 billion, according to a report by Reuters.
Leon chided the companies yesterday for closing multimillion-dollar deals while the court, under the Tunney Act, was considering the one at hand.
“If the Tunney Act is to mean anything, it surely must mean that no court should rubberstamp a consent decree approving the merger of ‘one of the largest companies in the United States’ and ‘the nation’s third largest health-insurance company,’ … simply because the Government requests it!” Leon wrote, according to the Reuters report.
“CVS Health and Aetna have been one company since November 2018, and today’s action by the district court makes that 100 percent clear,” CVS said in a statement. “We remain focused on transforming the consumer health care experience in America.”