Despite a lawsuit from the U.S. Justice Department in an attempt to block the proposed Anthem-Cigna merger, Connecticut state officials are still deliberating whether state insurance commissioner Katharine Wade should recuse from presiding over the merger process.
Wade was a former registered lobbyist and government relations executive for Cigna. Her husband is also currently working as an attorney for Cigna.
On Thursday, the Citizens Ethics Advisory Board issued a declaratory ruling on whether Wade—under the state’s code of ethics—should have been permitted to regulate the industry and supervise over the state’s review of the merger. The government reform group Common Cause of Connecticut requested the ruling.
The ruling was pushed just minutes after the U.S. Justice Department declared that it would sue to stop the merger, reasoning that the merger would hurt competition. Following the Justice Department’s announcement, the Connecticut Department of Insurance proclaimed that it was immediately suspending its review of Anthem’s financial condition and corporate governance.
Aside from the ruling, state legislators will likely be asked to consider new regulation to change the ethics rules governing public officials abide to, reported New Haven Register
. Lawmakers could also address appearances of conflicts of interests, which the board does not have oversight of.
“Once the declaratory ruling is issued, the board will likely have some directives,” said Office of State Ethics executive director Carol Carson. “It won’t surprise me, though we’re not there yet, to see something about appearances in this year’s ethics legislative proposals.”
The group Common Cause also has plans to press for law changes, New Haven Register
Carson argued that despite the uncertainty of the merger, the board must still proceed with its review of insurance commissioner Wade “to follow the regulations and to take the right steps going forward.”
“The board could determine that [the merger] is not going to go forward,” she commented.
The U.S. Justice Department also made known that it wants to stop the similarly planned Aetna-Humana merger.
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