Dave Jones Issues Report Opposing Big Insurance Merger; What Will Bao and Correa Say?

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Anthem & Cygna Antitrust

Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones, a declared candidate for Attorney General in 2018, has announced his request that the federal government apply an ancient and dormant legal principle called “anti-trust law” for an obscure and mysterious purpose known as “consumer protection.”

Just kidding about “dormant” and “obscure,” etc.; this is part of what government is supposed to do.  But what Jones did was go beyond the call of duty for a state official and do the critical research that the federal government is supposed to   do, but will not necessarily have done.  Here are the details from his Thursday evening announcement:

Today I announced my findings regarding the proposed merger of the second and fourth largest health insurers — Anthem and Cigna — to create the biggest health insurer in the nation.

Bigger is not better for California consumers.

After extensive review of testimony at our public hearing and comments from the public, merger experts, the health insurers, consumer advocates, and medical professionals,  I found that the Anthem and Cigna merger is anti-competitive. 

This merger will reduce competition and further consolidate an already extremely consolidated health insurance market in California. As with past health insurance mergers, the Anthem and Cigna merger is likely to result in increased prices, reduced availability of health insurance products, and decreased quality of healthcare. I found that the Anthem and Cigna merger will harm California’s consumers, businesses, and health insurance market.

I have formally shared my detailed and comprehensive findings and conclusions with the US Department of Justice, which is investigating the merger. I urged the US Department of Justice to block the merger.

Given our expertise and experience with California’s health insurance market, and the fact that this is the largest market and most populous state in the union, I know that the US Department of Justice will thoroughly consider our findings and recommendation.

You can read my findings and recommendation here.

Thanks to all who submitted public comments — there were many.  We reviewed and considered each and every one.

And thanks for the privilege of serving as California’s Insurance Commissioner.

Sincerely,

DAVE JONES
Insurance Commissioner

“But hey!”, I hear you say.  “What does this have to do with local politics?”  Well, it’s like this: in Congress, either Bao Nguyen on Lou Correa will have a lot to say about how anti-trust law applies to health insurers.  Dave Jones is as good as it gets in California for supporting consumer protection, which is why he’s been the best Insurance Commissioner ever.  So, knowing what Jones has to say — and realizing that this is an executive branch issue, but one that could still be affected by future federal legislation — what commitments regarding opposing or allowing this merger would the candidates in CA-46 be willing to make?

If making gigantic and powerful health insurance companies even MORE gigantic and powerful, maybe you would like to call Lou Correa’s campaign office through info@loucorrea.com, and Bao Nguyen’s campaign HERE, and ask them what they think about what Dave Jones is doing — and whose water they might carry in Congress?


About Greg Diamond

Somewhat verbose attorney, semi-disabled and semi-retired, residing in northwest Brea. Occasionally ran for office against jerks who otherwise would have gonr unopposed. Got 45% of the vote against Bob Huff for State Senate in 2012; Josh Newman then won the seat in 2016. In 2014 became the first attorney to challenge OCDA Tony Rackauckas since 2002; Todd Spitzer then won that seat in 2018. Every time he's run against some rotten incumbent, the *next* person to challenge them wins! He's OK with that. Corrupt party hacks hate him. He's OK with that too. He does advise some local campaigns informally and (so far) without compensation. (If that last bit changes, he will declare the interest.) His daughter is a professional campaign treasurer. He doesn't usually know whom she and her firm represent. Whether they do so never influences his endorsements or coverage. (He does have his own strong opinions.) But when he does check campaign finance forms, he is often happily surprised to learn that good candidates he respects often DO hire her firm. (Maybe bad ones are scared off by his relationship with her, but they needn't be.)