Four House Democrats are asking Federal Trade Commission to determine whether the proposed merger between Anthem and WellPoint Health Networks is anti-competitive.
The merger of Indianapolis-based Anthem and Thousand Oaks, Calif.-based WellPoint, announced Oct. 27, would create the largest healthcare plan, with almost 26 million members.
The letter, sent Thursday to FTC Chairman Timothy Muris, was signed by Reps. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.), Jim McDermott (D-Wash.), Max Sandlin (D-Texas) and Pete Stark (D-Calif.).
The letter requests that the FTC "thoroughly investigate the potential impact of this acquisition" and notes that it "reflects a trend toward consolidation of the health insurance industry."
The lawmakers say they are also concerned about both companies' strategy of converting traditionally not-for-profit Blue Cross and Blue Shield franchises into for-profit entities that are expected to answer first and foremost to investors, not members.
But observers say the merged company would not perceptibly increase market share in any one market because they are mainly made up of state Blues plans with distinct markets that do not overlap.
FTC spokesperson Mitchell Katz says either the FTC or the Department of Justice will be undertaking a routine review of the proposed merger to determine if there are any potential antitrust violations.