Health care: Aetna-Humana merger blocked
A federal judge this week blocked Aetna and Humana’s proposed $37 billion health insurance megamerger on antitrust grounds, said Brent Kendall and Anna Wilde Mathews in The Wall Street Journal. U.S. District Judge John Bates ruled that the deal would threaten competition in the insurance industry, and hurt seniors who buy private Medicare coverage as well as consumers who buy health plans through Obamacare exchanges. Humana is the second-largest insurer for Medicare Advantage, a government-backed private alternative to traditional Medicare; Aetna is the fourth-largest. Combined, they would have surpassed market leader UnitedHealth Group.
This week’s ruling included the bombshell revelation that Aetna deceived the public about its reason for pulling out of Obamacare exchanges, said Michael Hiltzik in the Los Angeles Times. Last summer, Aetna said it would withdraw from all but four of the 15 states where it was offering Obamacare individual insurance plans because it was losing too much money on the exchanges. But Judge Bates ruled that Aetna’s true aim was to pressure regulators to accept its proposed merger with Humana, and that Aetna attempted to “conceal its decision-making process from the court.” Aetna even pulled out of profitable states to make its point.
Companies: Trump Hotels eyes U.S. expansion
President Trump has pledged that his company will not pursue any new foreign business deals during his presidency, but his hotel management company is mapping out an aggressive U.S. expansion, said Hui-Yong Yu in Bloomberg.com. Trump Hotels CEO Eric Danziger said this week the company hopes to potentially triple the number of Trump-branded luxury hotels. “There are 26 major metropolitan areas in the U.S., and we’re in five,” Danziger said. “I don’t see any reason that we couldn’t be in all of them eventually.” Trump has transferred management of the Trump Organization to his two elder sons.
. Telecom: Net neutrality opponent to head FCC
A staunch foe of net neutrality is slated to lead the Federal Communications Commission, said Mike Snider in USA Today. President Trump named FCC commissioner Ajit Pai as chairman this week, replacing outgoing chairman Tom Wheeler. Pai, a Republican appointed by President Obama, voted in 2015 against new net neutrality rules, “which require internet service providers to treat all legal content equally and prohibit the unfair blocking or slowing of content.” The rules are backed by Netflix, Google, and other large websites, but opposed by internet service providers such as Comcast and AT&T.
Autos: Trump offers Detroit an olive branch
President Trump pledged to slash “unnecessary” environmental regulations in a meeting with the CEOs of General Motors, Ford, and Fiat Chrysler this week, said Steven Overly in The Washington Post. “After weeks of taunting the automotive industry over Twitter” for building cars in Mexico, Trump told the Big Three Detroit automakers he hopes to make it easier for them to build plants in the U.S. Trump has threatened to impose a 35 percent tariff on imported vehicles. Auto execs “declined to answer questions after the meeting.”
Manufacturing: Foxconn mulls U.S. factory
“Foxconn, the world’s largest contract electronics maker, is considering setting up a display-making plant in the United States,” said J.R. Wu in Reuters.com. The proposal, confirmed by the Taiwan-based company this week, would entail an investment of more than $7 billion and could potentially create as many as 50,000 jobs. Foxconn, which builds most of Apple’s iPhones, is one of China’s biggest employers. CEO Terry Gou said that Foxconn “had been considering such a move for years.”
Super physicals for busy CEOs
Few time-challenged CEOs have space on the calendar for regular health checkups. That’s why an increasing number of executives “get all their poking and prodding in at once” during intensive physical exams designed especially for captains of industry, said Sam Grobart in Bloomberg Businessweek. Over the course of two days at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., C-suite patients undergo several months’ worth of tests and exams with a legion of “ists,” including cardiologists, dermatologists, ophthalmologists, and physical therapists. The price tag for Mayo’s Executive Health Program is $5,000 out of pocket. Similar programs are offered at the Cleveland Clinic and Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, which earn a tidy profit on the programs’ fees. Companies generally pick up the bill. “It’s worth it if they find something,” says Sue Holloway of WorldatWork, an HR group.