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Healthagen exec: Aetna-Humana merger boosts transition to value-based care [Q&A]

Chief Population Health Officer Charles Kennedy says companies hope to create health services division

Ever since news broke this summer that Aetna planned to merge with Humana and Anthem would acquire Cigna, concern has swirled about how the insurance industry's consolidation will alter the healthcare landscape.  

Provider groups have pulled few punches in their criticism of the pending deals, with the American Hospital Association detailing its concerns in letters to federal regulators and the American Medical Association issuing a report that highlights how both mergers would diminish competition.

The top executives of the merging companies, meanwhile, have defended the deals' merits. Cigna CEO David Cordani said this week that his company's combination with Anthem will not decrease consumer choice, and Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini has said the deal with Humana will make both companies stronger in the retail marketplace.

But long before announcing its plan to acquire Humana, Aetna had been toiling to shift its entire business from a fee-for-service reimbursement model to a value-based one, Bertolini has said. 

But how will Aetna's ACO strategies mesh with Humana, which through its booming Medicare Advantage business has also been a major player in value-based payment models? To find out, FierceHealthPayer spoke to Charles Kennedy, M.D., (right), chief population health officer for Aetna's provider solutions business, Healthagen.

Editor's Note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Q: How do you think the merger with Humana will help Aetna accomplish its goals in accountable care?

A: Actually I think the merger is going to be very, very positive for our ACO strategies and ambitions.

If you think about what Aetna's doing, we have been pursuing a mission of building a healthier world--and when we say that, people think that's kind of coming from a philanthropic place, and partially it is, but it's also coming from a sound economic place.