The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) took critical, needed steps this week to address three anticompetitive mega-mergers. “The DOJ’s actions signal enforcement that takes seriously the importance of protecting consumers by promoting competition, innovation, and market entry,” said AAI President and economist Diana Moss. “The Antitrust Division has fulfilled its important role as ‘referee’ in the markets.”
The AAI advocated for strong antitrust enforcement in the proposed mergers of beer giants AB InBev-MillerCoors and health insurers Anthem-Cigna and Aetna-Humana. The AAI also testified before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights on the proposed beer merger.
Moss noted the government’s strong complaints in the health insurance and beer mergers. “These mergers were presumptively illegal and would have harmed consumers, competition, and innovation,” said Moss. The Anthem-Cigna and Aetna-Humana mergers would have narrowed the field of health insurance rivals from five to three, potentially raising prices to consumers, reducing quality and choice, and triggering additional, reactive consolidation in the healthcare supply chain.
The settlement in AB InBev-MillerCoors puts forward an aggressive remedy. “DOJ had a tall order in taking this decision because it had to deal with a presumptively illegal merger in markets where competition was already impaired,” noted Moss. At the center of the remedy are conditions for preventing the merged company from cutting off rival brewers’ access to critical distribution. “We hope that those aspects of the remedy prove effective in preventing the merged company from exercising market power,” she added.