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Megan McArdle

Aetna Threatened Obamacare But Didn't Start the Fight

The decision to leave some exchanges was related to a merger bid. But the U.S. set up the clash.
It all came down to a few counties in Florida.
Photographer: Tim Graham/Getty Images

Last year, when Aetna announced that it was withdrawing from the bulk of its Obamacare exchange business, liberals were incandescent with rage. Many, Senator Elizabeth Warren among them, alleged that this was basically a thuggish threat, aimed at an administration that had sued to block the firm’s merger with Humana. As if Aetna were saying: “Nice exchanges you’ve got there. It’d be a shame if something happened to them.”

This week, many of those people are feeling vindicated. A judge hearing an antitrust complaint about the merger has ruled that Aetna’s decision to pull out of the exchanges was motivated by the merger suit, rather than by other business considerations.