By Diane Bartz
WASHINGTON, Dec 5 Attorneys for the Justice
Department argued to a judge on Monday that health insurer Aetna
Inc's planned acquisition of Humana Inc violated
antitrust law for its Medicare and Obamacare exchange
businesses, kicking off a trial expected to last weeks.
The Justice Department filed a lawsuit in July asking the
court to stop Aetna's $34 billion deal for Humana, arguing that
it would lead to higher prices for people in Medicare and the
individual insurance program created under the Affordable Care
Justice Department lawyer Craig Conrath told Judge John
Bates of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia
that traditional government-managed Medicare does not compete
with Medicare Advantage, which is managed by insurance
Aetna has argued that Medicare Advantage competes with the
government's traditional Medicare program for elderly or
disabled patients. It also is selling Medicare plans in some
regions to Molina Healthcare Co, a move Conrath said
would not help sustain competition.
Humana is the second largest Medicare Advantage insurer
while Aetna is the fourth, and the two compete in more than 600
counties, the government said in its complaint. Eight states and
Washington, DC joined the government in the lawsuit.
(Reporting by Diane Bartz and Caroline Humer)