Forbes, June 14, 2018
Bruce Japsen

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It’s been a good week for CVS Health and Aetna with a judge clearing the AT&T-Time Warner merger and now the nation’s largest doctor group staying quiet on the drugstore chain’s proposed acquisition of the nation’s third-largest health insurance company.

Wall Street is cheering a federal judge’s ruling that the U.S. Justice Department failed to prove that AT&T’s $85 billion purchase of Time Warner violated antitrust deals. Because the AT&T-Time Warner marriage is considered a “vertical” merger in that the companies don’t operate in the same markets, supporters of CVS-Aetna see hope because they, too, have a vertical deal, selling different services and benefits and operate in different markets.

What’s more, the American Medical Association ended its annual House of Delegates meeting Wednesday in Chicago without specifically addressing the CVS-Aetna deal or vertical integration like health insurer Cigna’s proposed acquisition of the pharmacy benefit manager (PBM) Express Scripts. There were scores of AMA resolutions this week but none deliberated that were specific to CVS-Aetna.

It seems the idea of vertical integration has tossed medical care providers like the AMA a bit of a curve ball . The AMA, for example, puts out an annual report about the growing clout of horizontal mergers showing the growing market share and control health plans have over doctors and medical care provider networks. But these providers haven’t spoken out about vertical arrangements. [...]

insurance market pharmaceuticals regulation