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Feds sue to block healthcare mergers

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NEW YORK — The Department of Justice is suing four major health insurance companies in an attempt to block two proposed mergers.

The antitrust lawsuits were announced Thursday by Attorney General Loretta Lynch in response to Anthem’s $54 billion proposal to acquire Cigna and Aetna’s $37 billion takeover of Humana.

Nine states have joined the District of Columbia in the suit.

If the two mergers proceed, Anthem would insure 53 million members and Aetna would cover 33 million.

That would drop the number of health insurance providers from five major players to three — United Health is the other major provider.

United Health acquired Catamaran, a prescription provider and pharmacy-benefits manager, for $12.8 billion in 2015.

Lynch said that if the “big five became the big three,” then Americans and their bank accounts would suffer.

She also said the mergers would come at the expense of members and doctors.