Judge Picks Six Witnesses, Sets Hearing Date to Hear Criticisms of CVS-Aetna Merger
Judge Richard Leon of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, who will decide whether CVS Health and Aetna can finalize their $70 billion merger, has picked six witnesses to testify at a hearing next month before he decides whether to approve the merger.
The companies and experts had proposed thirteen possible witnesses. Judge Leon has been critical of the merger and stated that he wants to hear from critics of the acquisition before he makes a decision. The Department of Justice and CVS and Aetna attempted to block some of the witnesses from testifying, claiming that their arguments were irrelevant, but Leon ruled against them.
The three witnesses testifying against the CVS-Aetna merger are:
1) Dr. Neeraj Sood, PhD, a health policy professor and vice dean for research at the University of Southern California Sol Price School of Public Policy, who was put forward by the American Medical Association.
2) Diana L. Moss, PhD, president of the nonprofit American Antitrust Institute and an adjunct faculty member in the Department of Economics at the University of Colorado at Boulder, who was put forward by Consumer Action and the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG).
3) Michael B. Wohlfeiler, MD, JD, chief medical officer for the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, who was put forward by the Foundation.
The other three witnesses will be testifying in support of the CVS-Aetna merger. They are:
1) Alan Lotvin, the Executive Vice President of transformation for CVS Health, will testify on purported consumer benefits of the CVS-Aetna deal, and who was put forward by CVS.
2) Terri Swanson, Vice President of Medicare Product and Part D Business at Aetna since 2010, who was put forward by both CVS and the DOJ.
3) Lawrence Wu, PhD, President of the economic consulting firm NERA, who is expected to testify that the CVS-Aetna transaction won't lead to price increases for consumers, and who was put forward by CVS.
During this hearing, Leon will review DOJ's proposed final judgment on the merger. He has scheduled up to eight hours of testimony to begin Tuesday, June 4, at 10:30 a.m. in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The hearing will end by 5:30 p.m. each day and reconvene at 10:30 a.m. each morning for up to three days of testimony. In his order, Judge Leon wrote that this "this hearing is not a trial...In short, this hearing is merely an opportunity for the parties and the amici to provide the Court with whatever additional information and analysis they believe will aid the Court in determining whether the Government's proposed final judgment is in the public interest." There will be no cross-examination of witnesses, the government will not have to produce evidence, and there will be no opening or closing arguments.
We hope that Judge Leon will listen carefully to the expert witnesses and their points about how the merger will harm consumers, and takes that into account.