Anthem’s Cigna takeover bid blocked by federal judge

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NEW YORK — A federal judge has blocked Anthem’s attempt to acquire Cigna in what would have created the largest health insurer in the nation.

At the time deal was announced in 2015, Anthem valued the acquisition at $54 billion deal.

The Department of Justice sued to halt the merger in July last year, claiming antitrust law violations, and District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson in Washington D.C. ruled in agreement with the DOJ on Wednesday.

Anthem and Cigna are the U.S.’s second and third largest health insurance providers.

“They propose to create the single largest seller of medical healthcare coverage to large commercial accounts, in a market in which there are only four national carriers still standing,” the judge wrote.

Anthem’s bid to take over Cigna was first announced in 2015. The deal was immediately criticized by regulators and some in the industry concerned it would hike health care prices for Americans.

It’s the second roadblock a federal judge has put up for an attempted health care merger since the beginning of the year. Aetna’s plans to takeover Humana for $37 billion was frozen by a federal judge last month.