A week after its $54 billion merger with Cigna was shot down for a second time, insurer Anthem said it is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review its case.
Indianapolis-based Anthem announced late last week that it will file a petition for a writ of certiorari with the nation's high court, seeking review of the majority decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit that was handed down the prior week.
The appeals court upheld a lower court ruling from February that blocked the merger on grounds that it would harm competition, particularly in the national employer market.
There is no guarantee that the court will hear Anthem's case. The court receives 7,000 to 8,000 petitions for a writ of certiorari each term and hears oral arguments for just 80 cases.
Andrea Murino, a partner and co-chair of the antitrust group at law firm Goodwin Procter, said she didn't expect Anthem's chances of success were good but that she didn't rule them out.
In a statement, Anthem said the "1960s-era merger precedents relied upon by the courts below must be updated to reflect the modern understanding of economics and consumer benefit."
Anthem cited the split in the appeals court, in which dissenting Judge Brett Kavanaugh said the merger would provide cost savings for the large employers that obtain insurance services from Anthem and Cigna.
But the majority opinion concluded that Anthem didn't show the "extraordinary efficiencies necessary to offset the conceded anticompetitive effect of the merger in the 14 Anthem states: the loss of Cigna."
Anthem reiterated that the appeals court decision would deprive millions of Americans quality care and more than $2 billion in medical costs savings every year.
Also late last week, Cigna reported that customer gains had boosted its commercial employer business profit by 15.2% in the first quarter of 2017.
The Bloomfield, Conn.-based insurer posted a profit of $598 million in the three months ended March 31 compared with the year-ago period.
Cigna has been a reluctant merger partner, and sued Anthem in February for nearly $15 billion and the right to exit the merger agreement. A preliminary injunction hearing in the Delaware Court of Chancery is scheduled for Monday.
Anthem CEO Joseph Swedish told investors recently that the company remained committed to the merger.
Provider groups, including the American Medical Association and the American Hospital Association, have vehemently opposed the marriage, saying it would "smother competition and choice, raise premiums and reduce quality and innovation."