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Kaiser Health News Original Stories

4. Political Cartoon: 'Trump Card?'

Kaiser Health News provides a fresh take on health policy developments with "Political Cartoon: 'Trump Card?'" by Gary Varvel, The Indianapolis Star.

Here's today's health policy haiku:

GOP DOCTORS CAUCUS: DEMOGRAPHICS, VIEWS NOT ALWAYS REFLECTIVE OF PHYSICIAN COMMUNITY

Doctors on the Hill
Have party’s ear, but do they
Speak for profession?

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Summaries Of The News:

Marketplace

5. Humana First Insurer To Quit ACA Marketplaces Amid Uncertainty Of Health Law's Future

President Trump and other opponents see the decision as a sign that the Affordable Care Act is failing, but many insurers cite the murkiness of the Republicans' plan for dismantling the legislation as a reason to be skittish about the marketplaces.

The New York Times: Humana Plans To Pull Out Of Obamacare’s Insurance Exchanges
Humana announced on Tuesday that it would no longer offer health insurance coverage in the state marketplaces created under the federal health care law, becoming the first major insurer to cast a no-confidence vote over selling individual plans on the public exchanges for 2018. President Trump immediately seized on the company’s decision as evidence that the Affordable Care Act needed to be repealed and replaced. “Obamacare continues to fail,” he said on Twitter. (Abelson, 2/14)

Los Angeles Times: Amid Obamacare Uncertainty, Insurance Giant Humana Plans To Leave Marketplaces In 2018
The company attributed its action to mounting losses caused by sicker-than-expected consumers. It is the first major insurer to pull back completely amid the mounting uncertainty over the GOP’s still undefined healthcare plans, though other leading health plans have exited marketplaces over the last year, citing losses. Humana’s move will also probably mean that some 150,000 policy holders in 11 states where Humana sells Obamacare plans will have to switch carriers in 2018; some may be left without any alternative. (Levey and sen, 2/14)

The Hill: Humana To Drop Out Of ObamaCare At End Of 2017
The decision came after Humana scaled back participation and raised premiums, among other changes. "All of these actions were taken with the expectation that the company’s Individual Commercial business would stabilize to the point where the company could continue to participate in the program," the company said in a statement. (Hellmann, 2/14)

Politico: Humana Becomes First Major Insurer To Quit Obamacare Exchanges
The decision makes Humana the first major insurer to fully exit Obamacare amid uncertainty about the GOP's undefined health care plans. Other major insurers said they could also withdraw from Obamacare marketplaces next year if Republicans don't take immediate steps to shore up the law before replacing it. (Cancryn, 2/14)

Bloomberg: Trump Points To Humana Exit From Obamacare As Sign Of Failure 
The insurer said in July that it was reducing its presence in the individual market for 2017. At the time, the company said it was halting almost all sales of individual health insurance off of Obamacare’s exchanges. Humana said that for 2017 it would offer individual plans in about 156 counties in 11 states, down from 1,351 counties in 19 states a year earlier. (Tracer, 2/14)

CQ Roll Call: Humana Will Not Participate In Obamacare In 2018
The health insurer, which had already withdrawn from many of the markets in which it was participating last year, attributed the full exit to early signs that the marketplaces remain unstable. Other companies, including Anthem and Aetna, have said they are considering a similar retreat from some of the exchanges on which they currently offer plans. (Mershon, 2/14)

6. Near-Simultaneous Deaths Of Two Insurance Mega-Mergers Signals Victory For Antitrust Officials

Within hours of each other, companies involved in the Aetna-Humana merger and the Cigna-Anthem deal threw in the towel.

The Associated Press: 2 Big Insurance Breakups On Valentine's Day
It was a rough day for the already-roiled U.S. health insurance market: One giant merger was abandoned, another is threatened by infighting, and a major insurer announced it will stop selling coverage on public exchanges in 11 states. Both merger deals had already been rejected by federal regulators and judges, but the companies were considering appeals to those decisions. Now they both appear to be off. (Murphy, 2/14)

Reuters: Aetna, Humana Drop Merger; Cigna Wants To End Anthem Deal
Health insurers Aetna Inc and Humana Inc walked away from their $34 billion merger on Tuesday and Cigna Corp sought to end its deal with Anthem, shelving the industry consolidation they charted to address former President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act. (Humer and Bartz, 2/14)

USA Today: Aetna-Humana $37B Health Merger Dies, Cigna-Anthem Fight Over $48B Deal
Reacting to recent court rulings that blocked both transactions on antitrust grounds, Aetna on Tuesday abandoned its planned $37 billion merger with industry rival Humana in an agreement approved by both companies. But Anthem and Cigna battled each other over the fate of their planned $48 billion transaction. Cigna filed a court action to scuttle the tie-up and seek legal damages from its deal partner, while Anthem vowed to press ahead. The developments are the latest corporate fallout from the Obama administration's decision to challenge corporate mergers on anti-competition grounds and seek to block so-called tax inversion deals based on contentions they take unfair advantage of tax loopholes and would erode the nation's tax base. (Bomey and McCoy, 2/14)

Modern Healthcare: Cigna Seeks More Than $14 Billion In Formal Termination Of Anthem Deal
[Cigna] said the planned $54 billion merger, which was blocked by a federal district court last week on anti-competitive grounds, “cannot and will not achieve regulatory approval” and that calling it off is best for its shareholders. Cigna alleged that Anthem “willfully breached” the merger agreement in a way that made it unlikely the deal would be approved and has harmed Cigna's shareholders. (Livingston, 2/14)

The Washington Post: Cigna Demands Anthem Pay $14.8 Billion In Lawsuit To Terminate Merger Agreement
An Anthem spokeswoman said the company is still committed to closing its deal with Cigna, signaling the breakup could be messy. In a news release, Cigna announced it had filed a lawsuit in Delaware Chancery Court against Anthem seeking a judgment that the merger agreement had been terminated lawfully and seeking a $1.85 billion termination fee, along with an additional $13 billion in damages. ... Anthem spokeswoman Jill Becher said that Cigna's action was invalid and said the company "does not have a right to terminate the agreement." (Johnson, 2/14)

The CT Mirror: Cigna Sues To End Merger Deal, Seeks $15 Billion From Anthem 
The Justice Department blocked the merger last summer, saying a marriage of the insurers would kill competition in many markets for large-business health insurance policies, also known as “national accounts.” ... During the month-long antitrust trial that began in early December, Justice Department lawyers argued that, in addition to the antitrust issues, strained relations between the top executives of Anthem and Cigna doomed the merger to failure. (Radelat, 2/14)