AMA Applauds California Insurance Commissioner’s Stand for Preserving Health Insurance Competition in Nation’s Largest State

Statement attributed to: Andrew W. Gurman, M.D., President, American Medical Association

“The American Medical Association strongly agrees with the assessment of California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones that bigger is not better when it comes to the proposed merger of two corporate giants in the health insurance industry. We applaud the Commissioner’s decision to join the AMA and a growing list of others who have strongly urged the U.S. Department of Justice to block the proposed Anthem-Cigna merger.

“The AMA commends the Commissioner for acknowledging the evidence physicians and others presented demonstrating that the Anthem-Cigna merger would likely enhance market power or raise significant competitive concerns in most of California metropolitan areas. Last March, the AMA testified before the Commissioner and warned that the takeover of Cigna by rival Anthem is an attempt to secure anticompetitive market power with long-term consequences for California’s health care delivery system that would threaten health care access, quality and affordability. 

“The proposed mega-merger highlights the alarming absence of health insurer competition that already exists in California and other states across the country. These areas are vulnerable to a marketplace imbalance that favors powerful health insurers. In practice, a dominant health insurer can flex market power muscle to increase premiums, water-down benefits and grow corporate profitability at the expense of high-quality care - all without fear of losing business to a competitor.

“As noted by California regulators, the proposed Anthem-Cigna merger also shines a light on the growing imbalance between individual patients and physicians and giant health insurers. According to a survey of California physicians, Anthem’s and Cigna’s track record in dealing openly and fairly with patients and physicians leaves much to be desired.

“The opposition of the California Insurance Commissioner comes less than a month after the proposed Aetna-Humana acquisition was opposed in Missouri when state regulators issued an order preventing the companies from doing any post-merger business in Missouri’s Medicare Advantage markets and some commercial insurance markets.”

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About the American Medical Association (AMA) Since 1847 the American Medical Association has had one mission: to promote the art and science of medicine and the betterment of public health. Today, the core strategy used to carry out this mission is our concerted effort to help doctors help patients. We do this by uniting physicians nationwide to work on the most important professional and public health issues. In 2011 our strategic plan focuses on five areas that encompass the central elements in health system reform: Access to care Quality of care Cost of health care Prevention and wellness Payment models Vist the AMA's 2011 strategic plan at: http://www.ama-assn.org/ama/pub/about-ama/strategic-issues.page These topics represent the major areas of emphasis in which the AMA carries out its mission in the current environment. Our proposed actions are not only directed at solving reform issues at the policy level, but also at helping physicians adapt to—and adopt—changes in a productive way. To learn more about how the AMA is moving medicine forward, read our flyer at: http://www.ama-assn.org/resources/doc/about-ama/moving-medicine-forward.pdf.

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