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Analysis

Meet the 7 Witnesses Lining Up to Testify Against CVS-Aetna Next Month

By Steven Porter  
   April 22, 2019

Organizations that have filed amicus briefs in the DOJ's federal lawsuit have told the court who they want to testify next month.

Although the U.S. Department of Justice signed off more than six months ago on CVS Health's acquisition of Aetna, with strings attached, a federal judge still hasn't decided whether the DOJ's strings are sufficient.

U.S. District Judge Richard Leon in Washington, D.C., said earlier this month that he wanted to hear from witnesses before deciding whether to let the companies finalize their DOJ-approved deal.

Organizations that have been recognized as amici curiae in the case had until Friday to name three proposed witnesses apiece to testify at a not-yet-scheduled hearing next month. Three groups named a total of seven people who want to testify on whether Leon should grant the DOJ's request for final judgment in favor of the transaction.

Related: CVS-Aetna Nears Final Judgment Amid Rising Scrutiny of Vertical Deals

Related: How Will Data Drive CVS-Aetna Merger?

Related: WellCare Acquires Aetna's Part D Health Plans as CVS-Aetna Hits Rumble Strip

The American Medical Association (AMA) named three proposed witnesses:

  1. Richard M. Scheffler, PhD, is a health economics and public policy professor at University of California–Berkeley and the principal investigator for the California Healthcare Foundation's and the Commonwealth Fund's sponsored research on the price and quality impacts of healthcare consolidation. Scheffler is expected to testify that the CVS-Aetna deal is likely to harm consumers and result in higher premiums.
     
  2. Neeraj Sood, PhD, is a health policy professor and vice dean for research at the University of Southern California Sol Price School of Public Policy. Sood is expected to testify that the divestiture of Aetna's Part D plans "will not even come close to restoring competition to premerger levels," according to AMA's filing.
     
  3. Thomas L. Greaney, JD, is a visiting law professor at the University of California Hastings College of Law who has spent most of his 30-year academic career studying healthcare competition and regulation, according to AMA's filing. Greaney is expected to testify that the DOJ has failed to meaningfully respond to competitive concerns prompted by the horizontal merger and Part D plan divestiture.
     

Consumer Action and the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) named one proposed witness:

  1. Diana L. Moss, PhD, is president of the nonprofit American Antitrust Institute and an adjunct faculty member in the Department of Economics at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Moss is expected to testify that the merger could give CVS-Aetna incentive "to exclude rivals and facilitate anticompetitive coordination among health insurers served by [the pharmacy benefit manager] CVS-Caremark," according to the groups' filing.
     

The AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) named three proposed witnesses:

  1. Hal Singer, PhD, is a managing director at Econ One Research Inc., a senior fellow at the George Washington Institute of Public Policy, and an adjunct professor at the Georgetown University McDonough School of Business. Singer is expected to testify on the effect of increased vertical integration and barriers to entry or expansion that may be caused by the CVS-Aetna deal, according to AHF's filing.
     
  2. Lawton R. "Rob" Burns, PhD, MBA, is a professor in the departments of management and healthcare management at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Burns is expected to testify on the purposed consumer welfare benefits of the CVS-Aetna deal and the lack of evidence for such claims, according to AHF's filing.
     
  3. Michael B. Wohlfeiler, MD, JD, is chief medical officer for AHF. Wohlfeiler is expected to testify on how rising healthcare consolidation has negatively impacted HIV/AIDS care, according to AHF's filing.
     

Each plaintiff and defendant has until May 3 to name up to three proposed witnesses to rebut the testimony proffered by the amici curiae.

—Steven Porter is an associate content manager and online news editor for HealthLeaders, a Simplify Compliance brand.


KEY TAKEAWAYS

The judge said earlier this month that he wanted to hear from witnesses before deciding whether to let the companies finalize their DOJ-approved deal.

Three groups named a total of seven people who want to testify on whether Leon should grant the DOJ's request for final judgment in favor of the transaction.

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