Federal judge blocks Aetna Inc's plan to buy rival Humana

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(Copyright Reuters 2017)

A U.S. federal judge blocked on Monday health insurer Aetna Inc's proposed $34 billion merger with rival Humana, saying it was illegal under antitrust law.

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Judge John Bates of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia said the proposed deal would "substantially lessen competition in the sale of individual Medicare Advantage plans in 364 counties identified in the complaint and in the sale of individual commercial insurance on the public exchanges in three counties in Florida."The Justice Department filed a lawsuit on July 21, 2016 to block Aetna's acquisition of Humana and Anthem Inc's purchase of Cigna Corp , saying the two deals would lead to higher prices.

(Reporting by Diane Bartz; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)