What We're Reading: Anthem, Aetna Merger Lawsuits Unlikely to Be Decided by End of 2016

What we're reading, August 5, 2016: judge assigned to Anthem-Cigna and Aetna-Humana cases said he would likely only rule on one by the end of 2016; aversion to late-term abortion plummets when Zika infection is a factor; and the National Institutes of Health proposes lifting ban on research funds for human-animal stem cell research.

A judge responsible for deciding if the government can block the proposed mergers of Aetna-Humana and Anthem-Cigna has indicated both cases are unlikely to be decided by the end of the year. According to Reuters, the judge has said it would be difficult for him to decide both cases by the end of the year and he might send one case back for reassignment. Anthem’s lawyer indicated that no ruling for their case by the end of 2016 might put the deal in jeopardy, and Aetna’s lawyer is pushing for his case to be heard first since the deal was announced first.

Americans’ aversion to late-term abortion plummets in the case pregnant women infected with the Zika virus, a STAT-Harvard poll found. Typically, only 23% of the general American public favors abortion after 24 weeks, but when the possibility of microcephaly from Zika infection enters the equation, approval for late-term abortion jumped to 59%. Even among Republicans, support for late-term abortion was significantly higher (48% compared with 12% normally). The poll also asked about which presidential candidate people thought would do a better job handling the Zika outbreak.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is proposing to lift the ban on research funds for human-animal stem cell research. NIH had imposed a ban because these experiments could raise ethical concerns, but a new policy would let scientists receive federal money to make animal embryos that are partly human under carefully monitored conditions, reported NPR. The embryos would be used to create animal models of human diseases and hope to also produce animals with human organs to be used for transplants.