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Conn. Insurance Department halts review of Anthem-Cigna deal

The ConnecticutInsurance Department has suspended its review of Anthem Inc.'s proposed deal for Cigna Corp., after the federal government to block the multibillion-dollar .

The haltwas prompted solely by the U.S. Justice Department's lawsuit against Anthem andCigna, spokeswoman Donna Tommelleo said. Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsenis one of the state attorneys general who joined the suit as a plaintiff.

The legalaction interrupts an evaluation process at the insurance department that had facedconflict-of-interest concerns. Lawmakers and consumer groups in the state have criticizedInsurance Commissioner Katharine Wade for refusing to recuse herself from the review,due to her prior work at Cigna and her husband's continued employment at the healthinsurer.

The ConnecticutOffice of State Ethics is examiningWade's role in reviewing the merger.

In aseparate statement, Jepsen threw his support behind the Justice Department, arguingthat merging Anthem and Cigna would "substantially lessen competition"and hurt the availability and quality of healthcare in Connecticut.

"Accordingto our analysis, all five of Connecticut's metropolitan markets would be among the35 markets nationwide that would be negatively impacted by this merger," Jepsensaid.