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Weekly news through Dec. 16

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Weekly news through Dec. 16

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

Risk & Regulation

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners hosted executives from America's Health Insurance Plans and the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association to prepare for any transition or repeal of the Affordable Care Act, with hopes of keeping the market stable and prices affordable.

In a recently released report, the U.S Department of Health and Human Services touted the benefits of the ACA, saying about 20 million people have gained coverage due to the healthcare law.

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Retirement products, annuities, big data and tax reform are expected to be among critical issues for Michael Consedine, the new CEO of the NAIC. Consedine, the former Pennsylvania insurance commissioner and current AEGON NV executive, is expected to take the reins of the NAIC in late January 2017.

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The U.S. Treasury and the Office of the United States Trade Representative are expected to report progress made on a bilateral insurance agreement between the European Union and the U.S. on insurance and reinsurance supervision matters.

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A federal appeals court has denied the National Association for Fixed Annuities' challenge to the U.S. Department of Labor's Conflict of Interest Rule. The appeals court refused to overturn an earlier decision and institute an injunction halting the rule.

Life and health

Prudential Financial Inc. suspending the distribution of MyTerm policies being sold by Wells Fargo & Co. may not have a major impact on the insurer's bottom line, but the company could be forced to deal with long-lasting legal and regulatory headaches.

Despite confronting an uncertain market, regulatory and rate outlook in the coming year, Prudential remains confident in its ability to generate strong cash flow and return on equity as the insurer heads into 2017.

Separately, Wells Fargo has discontinued referrals of renters' insurance to another insurer, according to separate reports from Reuters and The New York Times. Reuters said the bank offers the product through a partnership with Assurant Inc.

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U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson is expected to rule on the U.S. Department of Justice's lawsuit to block Anthem Inc.'s planned acquisition of Cigna Corp. as the first phase of the antitrust trial draws to a close, Bloomberg News reported.

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Aetna Inc. CEO Mark Bertolini defended the company's decision to pull out from ACA health insurance exchanges, saying the move was driven by increasing losses Aetna was incurring through the exchanges and was not a retaliation to government efforts to block its planned takeover of Humana Inc., Bloomberg News reported.

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The U.S. life industry's pretax operating income of $23.14 billion in the third quarter represented its highest such result since the first quarter of 2012 and marked an increase of 80.9% from the year-earlier period.

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U.S. life insurers acquired nearly $23.45 billion in mortgage loans through their general accounts during the third quarter, but MetLife Inc. unit Metropolitan Life Insurance Co. accounted for approximately 16.5% of the dollar value of the overall investment activity.

P&C

The year-over-year rates of growth in Progressive Corp.'s total personal auto policies in force held steady relative to October's result at just more than 7.7% in November, but the trajectory of the expansion within the company's two primary distribution channels varied.

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