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Missouri Decision Should Serve As Model for Other States

We have previously applauded the recent Missouri decision that rightly denied the proposed Aetna-Humana merger. This decision should be a model for other states, not just based on the outcome, but also based on how well the decision was written.

Justice Louis Brandeis said: “Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman.” This especially applies to governmental processes. The whole point of having an open and transparent process is to not only allow the public to participate, but also to keep the public informed on how the process is carried out and why the regulators reach the decision that they do. Not only did Missouri have an extensive 13.5-hour public hearing, they also released a 43-page decision that thoroughly explains their decision making process.

If you compare the Missouri decision to a decision like Indiana’s, you will find the exact opposite. The Indiana decision included no facts useful in determining what the competitive issues are. There is no evidence for or against the merger being a violation of Indiana’s competitive standard. Missouri’s decision was 43 pages, 40 of which are facts and analysis of the merger. The Indiana decision is 18 pages, only 7 of which contain the facts and analysis that lead to the conclusion.

These 7 pages are so barren of useful information, that it raises an entirely new issue in the “Competitive Standard” section – cyber security and malware – but contains no information on why this is a concern. Presumably, if there is a cyber security and malware issue, then the public should know what that issue is and why they should not worry about it. This uninformative paragraph is one quarter of the entire discussion on whether the merger violates Indiana’s competitive standard.

Unfortunately, most state’s decisions are closer to Indiana’s than they are to Missouri’s. Such decisions are a huge disservice to the many advocacy groups and consumers that are concerned about the proposed Anthem-Cigna merger. We filed comments expressing such concerns on behalf of Consumer Action, Consumers Union, Citizens Action Coalition, AFSCME, Consumer Federation of America, Consumer Watchdog, and US PIRG. These affected parties should be shown that their concerns were taken into account and informed on how other evidence outweighed these concerns.

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