By Brent Kendall
WASHINGTON -- A federal judge on Wednesday approved a Justice Department settlement that allowed CVS Health Corp.'s nearly $70 billion acquisition of health insurer Aetna Inc., removing a cloud of uncertainty for the merged company.
U.S. District Judge Richard Leon had spent months questioning whether the settlement did enough to protect competition and consumers in health-care markets, raising the possibility that he might not approve it.
The judge, in a first for a court review of a government merger settlement, convened hearings to consider live witness testimony from the deal's critics who said the Justice Department's deal with the companies was inadequate.
Judge Leon on Wednesday said the critics' testimony ultimately was unpersuasive. He said the health-care markets at issue in the case "are not only very competitive today, but are likely to remain so post-merger."
The settlement "is well within the reaches of the public interest," the judge concluded.
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