U.S. Judge Finds That Aetna Deceived The Public About Its Reasons For Quitting Obamacare
By Michael Hiltzick
The Los Angeles Times
January 23, 2017

NOTE:  This article is from two months ago.  But did you see anything about the real reasons that Aetna was pulling out of the Obamacare Exchanges in the media?  I guess I missed it.  But Judge D. Bates ruled that the reason Aetna left the exchanges was not because of their stated reason that it was losing money as Aetna claimed.  Yet, this was one of the prime reasons that Republicans were decrying the collapse of Obamacare.  

Here's the LA Times article:  

Aetna claimed this summer that it was pulling out of all but four of the 15 states where it was Obamacare individual insurance because of a business decision — it was simply losing too much money on the Obamacare exchanges.
Now a federal judge has ruled that that was a rank falsehood. In fact, says Judge John D. Bates, Aetna made its decision at least partially in response to a federal antitrust lawsuit blocking its proposed $34-billion merger with Humana. Aetna threatened federal officials with the pullout before the lawsuit was filed, and followed through on its threat once it was filed. Bates made the observations in the course of a ruling he issued Monday blocking the merger.
Aetna executives had moved heaven and earth to conceal their decision-making process from the court, in part by discussing the matter on the phone rather than in emails, and by shielding what did get put in writing with the cloak of attorney-client privilege, a practice Bates found came close to “malfeasance.”
The judge’s conclusions about Aetna’s real reasons for pulling out of Obamacare — as opposed to the rationalization the company made in public — are crucial for the debate over the fate of the Affordable Care Act. That’s because the company’s withdrawal has been exploited by Republicans to justify repealing the act. Just last week, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) cited Aetna’s action on the “Charlie Rose” show, saying that it proved how shaky the exchanges were.
Bates found that this rationalization was largely untrue. In fact, he noted, Aetna pulled out of some states and counties that were actually profitable to make a point in its lawsuit defense — and then misled the public about its motivations. Bates’ analysis relies in part on a “smoking gun” letter to the Justice Department in which Chief Executive Mark Bertolini explicitly ties Aetna’s participation in Obamacare to the DOJ’s actions on the merger, which we reported in August. But it goes much further.
Indeed, he wrote, Aetna’s decision to pull out of the exchange business in Florida was “so far outside of normal business practice” that it perplexed the company’s top executive in Florida, who was not in the decision loop.
“I just can’t make sense out of the Florida dec[ision],” the executive, Christopher Ciano, wrote to Jonathan Mayhew, the head of Aetna’s national exchange business. “Based on the latest run rate data . . . we are making money from the on-exchange business. Was Florida’s performance ever debated?” Mayhew told him to discuss the matter by phone, not email, “to avoid leaving a paper trail,” Bates found. As it happens, Bates found reason to believe that Aetna soon will be selling exchange plans in Florida again.
While the Department of Justice was conducting its investigation of the merger plans but before the DOJ lawsuit was filed, “Aetna tried to leverage its participation in the exchanges for favorable treatment from DOJ regarding the proposed merger,” Bates observed. During a May 11 deposition of Bertolini, an Aetna lawyer said that if the company “was not ‘happy’ with the results of an upcoming meeting regarding the merger, ‘we’re just going to pull out of all the exchanges.’”
The full article with more details of Aetna's malfeasance is here.  JUDGE RULES THAT AETNA LIED
NOTE:  If you read about this ruling or saw a media news report about the court's decision, please let me know.   One thing that's clear: Aetna stated - and this was reported by the media - that they were pulling out of the Obamacare exchanges because they losing money there.  This was simply a lie.  They wrote the Justice Department threatening to withdraw from the exchanges if the DOJ did not approve their pending merger with Humana.    This is the true reason.   But listening to all the death spiral propaganda last week about how Obamacare, you never would have known that Aetna, at least, had withdrawn from exchanges where they were actually making money.  Extortion - or is it Capitalism? - at its finest.  


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