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Insurance commissioner urges DOJ to block Aetna-Humana deal

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(Reuters) — California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones on Thursday urged national antitrust regulators to block health insurer Aetna Inc.'s proposed $34 billion acquisition of Humana Inc.

Mr. Jones, whose insurance department does not have authority to block the deal, said the acquisition would be anti-competitive in California and nationwide and contribute to higher prices for insurance.

Mr. Jones a week ago also called for the U.S. Justice Department to stand against Anthem Inc.'s proposed acquisition of Cigna Corp. He said that one of his concerns is the shrinking number of commercial insurers available to enter new markets.

"If Humana disappears into this merger, it's one less company that has the realistic possibility of entering the market," Mr. Jones said.

He said that an agreement reached between Aetna and the California Department of Managed Health Care did not address antitrust concerns detailed in a 24-page letter his insurance department sent to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Aetna shares were up 0.3% at $120.49 and Humana was off 0.1% at $187.41 in midafternoon trading having fallen slightly after Mr. Jones' comments.