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DOJ asks judge to approve CVS/Aetna deal

The U.S. Justice Department asked a judge on Monday to formally approve the merger between CVS Health and insurer Aetna.

Judge Richard Leon of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia in December delayed the closing of the $70 billion deal which the Justice Dept. signed off on in November. Leon had requested stronger oversight of merger to make sure CVS and Aetna follow self-imposed measures to keep certain key business operations separate until Leon is finished weighing in.

The Justice Department approved the merger of pharmacy chain and benefits manager CVS Aetna on the condition that Aetna sell its Medicare prescription drug plan business to WellCare Health Plans Inc. Both deals have closed.

Last week, CVS reported fourth-quarter and full-year 2018 earnings—the first period with some contribution from Aetna. The financial report shows the two companies are very much together.

As expected, Aetna has yet to contribute benefits to CVS’ bottom line, which plummeted in the fourth quarter and full year 2018 compared with the same periods in 2017 because of problems with its long-term care business and expenses related to the Aetna takeover.