Health insurers Aetna and Humana have extended their merger deadline, giving the companies until Feb. 15 to obtain regulatory approval. They filed notice of the extension a day after the trial ended in the U.S. Justice Department's bid to block the $37 billion deal.
The Justice Department argues the combination would reduce competition in the Medicare Advantage market and drive up costs for seniors and people with disabilities. A key issue in the trial is whether Medicare Advantage competes with traditional Medicare.
Aetna and Humana have agreed to sell some Medicare Advantage assets to Molina to satisfy the government's concerns.
U.S. District Judge John Bates is expected to rule on the merger by mid-January.
If the tie-up isn't approved, Aetna will have to pay Humana a $1 billion breakup fee.
Aetna and Humana have already extended the end date of their merger agreement once before, from the original date of June 30 to Dec. 31. It was seen as a sign that the insurers underestimated the many hurdles they would have to jump to close the deal.
Meanwhile, a trial about another giant merger, between national insurers Anthem and Cigna, is underway and expected to wrap up Friday. That decision is also expected to come in January.