Congressman Wants Hearing on Healthcare Mergers

Rep. Frank Pallone Jr, D-New Jersey, the ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, wants its chairman to hold a hearing on the growing number of healthcare mergers to discuss what impact they may have on patients, providers, and other aspects of the healthcare system.

The ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee wants its chairman to hold a hearing on the growing number of healthcare mergers to discuss what impact they may have on patients, providers, and other aspects of the healthcare system.

Rep. Frank Pallone Jr, D-New Jersey, wrote to Rep. Greg Walden, R-Oregon, this week requesting that he schedule a hearing on Cigna’s recently proposed plan to acquire Express Scripts for $67 billion and CVS’s proposed merger with Aetna for $69 billion.

Pallone said he has concerns about the trend of consolidation. His request comes after a February 14 Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations hearing, where Pallone said witnesses emphasized concern about the issue.

“The Committee has an ongoing responsibility to evaluate and consider these changes to our health care system, so as to better understand the impact of these changes on consumers, patients, and providers,” Pallone wrote. “Due to the scale of the proposed Cigna-Express Scripts and CVS-Aetna deals, these changes should be thoroughly scrutinized and understood by the members of this Committee. To best understand the matter, it would be in this Committee’s best interest to hear directly from representatives of the companies involved, in addition to other perspectives.”

Earlier this month, Cigna announced that it will acquire Express Scripts in an effort to bring health benefits and pharmacy benefits under the same roof. It's the latest in a string of acquisitions and mergers as the industry attempts to address health costs. Just a few months back, CVS Health announced its proposal to purchase Aetna, voicing its intent to “remake the consumer healthcare experience.”