Sens. Kelly and Fasano to CT Insurance Department: “Re-start” the Anthem-Cigna Merger Review “With Fresh Eyes”

September 20, 2016

Following Connecticut Insurance Department (CID) Commissioner Katharine Wade’s Sep. 15 decision to recuse herself from the review of the Anthem-Cigna merger, Senate Minority Leader Len Fasano (R-North Haven) and Sen. Kevin Kelly (R-Stratford), the ranking Republican member of the General Assembly’s Insurance & Real Estate Committee, are urging CID’s deputy commissioner to direct the department to re-start the entire review process “with fresh eyes and leadership” and to “assign new staff with no past or present ties to either Cigna or Anthem to oversee the process.”

“We, along with many others including the Connecticut State Medical Society and consumer advocates, had been asking Commissioner Wade to step aside for months,” Fasano and Kelly wrote in their Sep. 19 letter to CID Deputy Commissioner Timothy J. Curry (attached). “Instead, she stubbornly chose to maintain control over the merger application despite her obvious appearance of a conflict of interest, including her past employment at Cigna as a lobbyist and her husband’s current employment there as an attorney and his ownership of stock options. In fact, the Office of State Ethics has opened an investigation to determine whether she had not only an appearance of a conflict, but an actual legal conflict of interest such that she should have recused herself from day one. As you are aware, when Commissioner Wade was faced with a subpoena for documents which arguably would have conclusively demonstrated if there was a conflict or not, Commissioner Wade decided to remove herself from this matter.

“The Anthem merger application was filed a year ago. Over the past year, the Department has engaged in a review of the application that has included meetings with the parties and their representatives, telephone conferences, requests for documents and information and other actions. All of these actions have been potentially influenced by the Commissioner and tainted by her conflict of interest. It is impossible for the public, stakeholders and policy makers to have full confidence in the review process under these circumstances.

“We believe it is necessary to not only remove the Commissioner from the process and appoint unbiased professional staff to oversee the merger application, but to re-start the process with a clean slate. The answer to a question is often dictated by the information obtained, the resources reviewed, and the people consulted. All of these can be tainted by the personal biases and predispositions of the reviewer. In this case, the Commissioner’s involvement for the past year has likely influenced the outcome.

“Therefore, to restore public trust in the merger review process and ensure a final decision that is free from bias and the potential taint of a conflict of interest, we believe it is imperative that the Department re-start the merger review process from the beginning.”