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Count Clinton among critics of health insurance mergers

But America's Health Insurance Plans says policymakers should focus on high healthcare prices

Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has officially entered the debate about the two major health insurer mergers, saying she has "serious concerns" about their effect on consumers.

Clinton has already made healthcare policy part of her campaign, as she has spoken out about the need to control spiraling drug prices, criticized the Affordable Care Act's coming Cadillac tax and issued a healthcare cost-control proposal that would require insurers to loosen their provider-network rules. Her fellow Democratic candidate, Bernie Sanders, also has taken aim at high drug prices.

In her latest statement, Clinton says both provider and insurer consolidation make her "worried that the balance of power is moving too far away from consumers."

She then specifically calls out the Aetna-Humana and Anthem-Cigna mergers, writing that one would excessively concentrate the market in New Hampshire and both have "concerning effects" on concentration in other markets.

Given these concerns, Clinton calls for federal regulators to closely scrutinize the deals and says that if the deals are approved, the insurers should commit to passing on any merger-related savings to consumers. During a recent congressional hearing, Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) echoed this call, asking both the Aetna and Anthem CEOs to pledge to pass on their savings.

But America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) was quick to fire back at Clinton's arguments. In a statement emailed to FierceHealthPayer, AHIP Press Secretary Clare Krusing writes that health plans actually operate in a highly competitive and regulated environment.

"If the goal is to make healthcare more affordable and to provide greater choices for consumers, then policymakers should focus on addressing the real cost challenges facing patients--the soaring prices of prescription drugs and medical services--that drive up the cost of coverage and out-of-pocket costs for millions across the country," she adds.

To learn more:
- check out Clinton's statement

Related Articles:
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Clinton joins call to repeal ACA's Cadillac tax
Clinton unveils plan to cap monthly costs for Rx drugs
Sanders leads push for Medicare to negotiate drug prices
Senate panel grills Aetna, Anthem execs on merger deals