Sommer Brokaw

The Justice Department signed off on a merger between CVS and Aetna Wednesday, clearing the way for the long-awaited acquisition worth nearly $70 billion. File photo by Northfoto/Shutterstock/UPI
Oct. 10 (UPI) — The Department of Justice gave conditional approval Wednesday to the $69 billion merger between CVS Health and insurer Aetna.

The agreement is now set to go ahead under the condition that Aetna divests its Medicare Part D prescription drug plan business, the department said.

Aetna announced on Sept. 27 it agreed to sell its standalone Medicare Part D business to WellCare Health Plans.

The Justice Department said the move resolves competition concerns.

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“Today’s settlement resolves competition concerns posed by this transaction and preserves competition in the sale of Medicare Part D prescription drug plans for individuals,” Asst. Attorney General Makan Delrahim said. “The divestitures required here allow for the creation of an integrated pharmacy and health benefits company that has the potential to generate benefits by improving the quality and lowering the costs of the healthcare services that American consumers can obtain.”

Under the agreement, Aetna Chairman and CEO Mark Bertolini and two other directors will join the CVS board of directors. Aetna will become a standalone business unit within the larger company.

CVS Health announced the merger in December. It will pay $207 per share for Aetna and its debt, and Aetna shareholders will receive $145 per share and 0.84 for each Aetna share.

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The deal combines CVS’ 9,000 pharmacy stores and over 1,000 walk-in clinics, with Aetna, an insurance company that covers 22 million customers. The merger has been promoted as a new cost-efficient way of delivering care through one-stop health care services with onsite nurses and pharmacists.

The merger is expected to close later this year. It is subject to regulatory and shareholder approval.

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