Northeast lawmakers speak out against health insurance mergers

Northeast lawmakers speak out against health insurance mergers

Northeast lawmakers speak out against health insurance mergers Lawmakers in Connecticut, as well as consumer advocate groups, have added their voices to the chorus criticizing two proposed insurance company mergers.

The Connecticut Campaign for Consumer Choice, state Rep. Gregg Haddad, D-Mansfield, and 17 other legislators sent a letter to Connecticut insurance commissioner Katharine Wade voicing their concerns that the mergers “may have a negative impact on both the cost and quality of care in Connecticut.”

The two mergers in question are the acquisition of Cigna Health Insurance by Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, and Humana by Aetna.

Opponents to the bill fear that the mergers could lead to increased insurance premiums and out-of-pocket costs, as well as limit consumers’ choices for healthcare and insurance plans.

Connecticut’s state insurance department is slated to have a public hearing on the former deal soon, reported Connecticut Post. While Aetna is based in the region, like Cigna, the public hearing for the latter merger will be held elsewhere, as Humana does not participate in the state’s insurance market.

The letter addressed to the state insurance commissioner asked that the reviews allow the public “maximum opportunity to share their views about [the mergers].”

Haddad, in a conference call with Connecticut Post, said that he called for multiple public hearings to allow more opportunities for the public to attend.

“It’s not enough to have a single hearing held in the middle of the day,” the state representative said.

He also shared that he and his colleagues worry about the economic impact of such mergers.

“We’re very concerned about what this merger means to our constituents and our economy.”

Department of Insurance spokeswoman Donna Tommelleo said that under the Insurance Company Holding Act, the department is required to approve any merger except under certain conditions, such as if the merger “would substantially lessen insurance competition in Connecticut and/or create a monopoly.”

Tommelleo also explained why the Aetna-Humana deal will not have a hearing in Connecticut.

“Connecticut did not have (an application) to review because Humana is the company being acquired and Connecticut does not have a Humana domestic company,” she remarked. “What Humana business does exist in Connecticut is very small.”