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Monday, September 12, 2016

Warren, Sanders Launch Probe Into Aetna for Bailing on ObamaCare

Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. (photo: Getty)
Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. (photo: Getty)

By Sarah Ferris, The Hill
08 September 16
 
eading progressive senators are demanding an explanation from the insurance giant Aetna about its abrupt decision to pull out of most ObamaCare exchanges this year, which they said appeared to be politically motivated.

Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) announced Thursday they are launching a probe into Aetna, which bailed on ObamaCare just weeks after the Justice Department moved to block its multi-billion merger with another top-five insurer.

Many Democrats have been suspicious that Aetna’s decision came as a direct result of the unfavorable ruling from the White House. That speculation was fueled after a letter surfaced from Aetna’s CEO last month that appeared to make a direct threat to Obama administration that the company would leave the exchanges if its merger was not approved.

Citing the letter, the senators accused Aetna of making a “dangerous and irresponsible bet” that the Justice Department would support its deal to protect the public exchanges.

“Aetna’s decision regarding its participation in the ACA exchanges appears to be an effort to pressure the Justice Department into approving a merger that the Department has alleged violates antitrust law,” the senators wrote.

“You now must answer both to your shareholders and to the thousands of Americans who trusted Aetna with their health coverage,” they wrote.

Aetna, one of the nation’s largest insurers, is pulling out of 11 states next year, a move that affects about 20 percent of its 830,000 people.

The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment, though a spokesperson criticized the senators’ letter in a statement to Business Insider.

"Singling Aetna out may be politically convenient during election season, but this letter ignores realities and takes the focus away from needed reforms,” TJ Crawford wrote in a statement. “The [Affordable Care Act] is not sustainable without bipartisan action that improves access, affordability and quality of care for consumers."

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