September 27, 2018

Aetna to unload Medicare drug plan

Aetna's Hartford headquarters.

With federal approval of CVS Health's $69 billion acquisition of Aetna pending, the Hartford health insurer on Thursday said it will sell its standalone Medicare Part D prescription drug plan business to WellCare Health Plans.

Aetna, which is in talks with the U.S. Department of Justice regarding anticipated approvals in the coming days or months, said it believes the divestiture is "a significant step toward completing the DOJ's review" of the deal.

A subsidiary of WellCare, which offers a Medicare Advantage HMO in Connecticut and recently filed for approval to offer a Medicare Advantage PPO, is buying Aetna's plan for an undisclosed sum. Approximately 21,500 of those members are in Connecticut.

Aetna said it will continue to administer the impacted plans through 2019, and that members won't see any change throughout that year.

Aetna said the WellCare deal, which is contingent on the closing the CVS transaction, will not affect its individual or group Medicare Advantage, Medicare Advantage Part D or Medicare Supplement products or plans.

Standalone Medicare drug plans are sold as a supplement to Medicare parts A and B plans.

CVS CEO Larry Merlo said this summer that he expects the CVS-Aetna deal to close late in the third quarter or early in the fourth quarter of this year. Aetna said Thursday that expectation remains in place.

The deal also still needs the blessing of the Connecticut Insurance Department. A CID hearing on the deal had been scheduled for Sept. 12, but was postponed until Oct. 4 after CVS filed additional documents for CID to review, the Journal Inquirer reported.

This story has been updated to include details about Connecticut plan members

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