CVS-Aetna deal faces hurdle as WellCare buys out Part D biz

CVS Health has closed its $69 billion acquisition of health insurer Aetna after the deal was approved by all necessary regulators, but the transaction has hit a snag after a judge requested more information from the Department of Justice.

While the deal has been approved, the court must also approve the deal to ensure it reasonably addresses antitrust concerns. Last week, Judge Richard Leon of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia signaled he may not approve the deal. On Monday, the judge again questioned the deal, The Wall Street Journal reported.

He also said he may halt the integration of assets until the implications of the deal have been fully considered.

One significant concern was Aetna’s Medicare Part D prescription drug business, which the company agreed to sell to WellCare Health Plans. That divestiture was part of the agreement with the DOJ when the agency approved the transaction in October. WellCare closed on the purchase on Dec. 4.

“We're pleased that we could be a solution to our federal partners, as well as CVS Health," Ken Burdick, WellCare's CEO, said in a statement. "This acquisition allows us the opportunity to serve over 2 million additional Medicare Part D members nationwide and complements our long-term growth strategy within government-sponsored health plans."

The judge was specifically concerned that the divestiture only represented one-tenth of 1 percent of the total $69 billion transaction value, the WSJ reported.

In a court document filed Dec. 2, the DOJ noted it does not think CVS and Aetna should have to keep their assets separate while the court process plays out.

Another court hearing is scheduled for Dec. 18.