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Cigna shares fall after government sanction

By Ann Marie Awad   |   Jan. 23, 2016 at 9:56 PM

NEW YORK, Jan. 23 (UPI) -- The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has banned insurer Cigna from enrolling new Medicare customers due to "non-compliance" with government regulations.

"Cigna has experienced widespread and systemic failures impacting Cigna enrollees' ability to access medical services and prescription medications," the federal government said in a Jan. 21 letter to the insurer. "Cigna has had a longstanding history of non-compliance" with requirements of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

The sanctions specifically target Cigna's Medicare Advantage and prescription drug plans, which accounted for for nearly a quarter of Cigna's revenue in 2015. According to CMS, Cigna had incorrectly denied insurance coverage and prescription drugs to those who should have received them.

Cigna disclosed the sanction in a public filing Thursday evening. Bloomberg Business reported Cigna shares fell 1.2 percent to $138.46 just after noon Friday.

"As a company committed to delivering quality products and services, we focus on putting customers first. The findings in the audit are unacceptable and will be addressed in full partnership with CMS," Herb Fritch, president of Cigna-HealthSpring, said in a statement.

The insurer's $48 billion sale to Anthem, approved by shareholders weeks ago, is expected to go forward regardless of the sanctions. The Wall Street Journal reported the deal is currently under review by anti-trust regulators as well as the Justice Department.

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