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Cigna deal wins approval from Anthem's home state

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Indianapolis-based health insurer Anthem Inc. on Thursday said the Indiana Department of Insurance greenlit its pending merger with Cigna Corp., marking that the 12th state to approve the merger.

Anthem needs approval for the $54 billion merger in a total of 26 states and still must get the thumbs up from the Justice Department before it can merge with Bloomfield, Connecticut-based Cigna.

The insurer's home state approval comes on the heels of reports that top executives at both insurers have been bickering about the merger's progress. Private letters obtained by the Wall Street Journal indicate that the insurers are not on the same page, which has led to doubts among observers that the merger will occur.

Cigna has said the merger may not occur in 2016 as previously stated, while Anthem CEO Joseph Swedish said this week that the insurer is pushing for a decision in July.

In a research note on Thursday, New York-based analyst Ana Gupte with Leerink Partners L.L.C., reaffirmed her stance that the Anthem-Cigna merger has less than a 50% chance of closing, especially in the face of opposition from Fortune 500 employer customers.

Meanwhile, Aetna Inc. has secured approval in 15 of the 20 states necessary to close its merger with insurer Humana Inc. That merger also still needs approval from the Justice Department.

But on Tuesday, Missouri became the first state to oppose the Aetna-Humana deal, calling the merger anti-competitive. The state's insurance department issued a preliminary order stating that the insurers would have to stop selling insurance in the state if the merger goes forward.