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Weekly news through Jan. 27

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Weekly news through Jan. 27

S&P Global Market Intelligence offers our top picks of insurance news stories and more published throughout the week.

Risk & Regulation

U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order targeting the Affordable Care Act within hours of being sworn into office Jan. 20. In his order, Trump said he wants to ensure U.S. states have more flexibility and control to create a "more free and open healthcare market," among other things.

Four Republicans introduced an ACA replacement bill, called the Patient Freedom Act of 2017, that will keep some parts of the health law intact while repealing some.

Meanwhile, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners' leaders are warning Congress that potential action taken to change the health insurance market could do "irreparable harm" and lead to a rapid collapse of that market.

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Current and former insurance commissioners and a state legislator are among the candidates to fill key regulatory positions, including the directorship of a potentially re-imagined Federal Insurance Office, according to industry and government sources.

Life and health

A federal judge blocked the proposed merger between Aetna Inc. and Humana Inc. The deal would "substantially lessen" competition for individual Medicare Advantage products in every county cited in a Department of Justice lawsuit brought to stop the merger, according to District Judge John Bates.

Following the ruling, top executives of the two health insurers said they would consider all available options for the proposed deal.

Separately, Aetna is facing a lawsuit accusing the company of making misleading statements concerning its exits from public health exchanges.

P&C

Travelers Cos. Inc. is working on improving the profitability of its personal auto business as higher bodily injury severity continued to pressure the underwriting results of the business, executives said during an earnings call.

Executives attributed the deteriorating underwriting results principally, but not exclusively, to environmental factors.

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Total personal auto policies in force at Progressive Corp. expanded at their fastest annual rate in six years in 2016 as the steady growth in policy count in the agency channel complemented characteristically strong, albeit slightly lower, direct auto volumes.

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The Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System agreed to contribute $1 billion in financing toward Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd.'s pending acquisition of Allied World Assurance Co. Holdings AG, Bloomberg News reported.

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Radian Group Inc. executives expect to maintain the company's level of new insurance premium written despite an expected drop-off in mortgage originations this year.

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Aon Securities' preliminary expectations for 2017 primary catastrophe bond issuance is $8 billion, noting that a record amount of cat bonds will mature in the first half of the year with $6.4 billion coming off-risk. Aon Securities is the investment banking division of Aon Benfield, a part of Aon Plc.

Also featured on SNL

Market not counting on managed care mega-mergers completing

Court decision blocking Aetna, Humana deal has muted impact on big health stocks