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US: Anthem and Cigna boost spending on lobbying during merger review

 |  June 16, 2016

As health insurance giants Cigna and Anthem seek regulatory approval for a controversial merger, they have been ramping up their spending on lobbying, enlisting an army of former government officials with ties to the key public officials who can influence the antitrust review process. The lobbying push comes as groups representing phyisicans and consumers have argued that the merger — which would create the largest private health insurance company in history — could raise premiums and limit medical care for more than 53 million people.

An International Business Times analysis of lobbying records found that in 2015 — the year Cigna and Anthem announced the merger proposal — the companies spent more than $13.6 million combined on federal lobbying. That was a one-year increase of more than 17 percent in such spending, and a full 73 percent more than the two companies spent during the health industry’s epic lobbying blitz in 2009, when the Affordable Care Act was being negotiated.

As Justice Department officials have been reviewing the merger proposal in 2015 and 2016, federal records show the companies specifically listing antitrust issues as a focus of their lobbying efforts. The records documenting the antitrust-related lobbying disclosed more than $8 million worth of lobbying spending.

An Anthem spokesperson said there were several motivations for increasing its lobbying.

Full Content: International Business Times

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