The old Anthem and WellPoint Health Networks announced in 2003 that they'd base the combined company in Indianapolis. (Photo: Thinkstock)

(Bloomberg) — Aetna Inc.’s $37 billion deal to buy Humana Inc. was approved by the California Department of Managed Health Care, which said Monday that it could move forward after the company agreed to invest in the state’s health care infrastructure.

Related: California insurance regulator tells U.S. to block Anthem-Cigna deal

Louisville, Kentucky-based Humana’s stock rose 1.9 percent to $190.74 at 3:07 p.m. New York time. Hartford, Connecticut-based Aetna gained 1.5 percent to $122.88.

The department’s sign-off comes as federal regulators are considering the antitrust risks of the deal, as well as of Anthem Inc.’s $48 billion takeover of Cigna Corp., which is based in Bloomfield, Connecticut. On Sunday, the Wall Street Journal reported that Justice Department officials are questioning whether enough concessions can be made for Anthem and Cigna’s deal to be approved.

The California department said in a statement that Aetna would provide almost $50 million in community investments as part of the agreement. The Hartford, Connecticut-based insurer will also keep key functions and operations in the state.

“This is the latest positive step in the approval process, as we move closer to a combined company,” Aetna spokesman T.J. Crawford said in an e-mail. Aetna expects the cash and stock merger to close in the second half of 2016, he said.

The California Department of Insurance is also reviewing the Aetna-Humana deal.

Anthem waits

The California Department of Managed Health Care has not signed off on Anthem’s acquisition of Cigna and Rodger Butler, a spokesman for the department, said he couldn’t give a timeline for a decision.

“It is still under review,” Butler said in a phone interview. Cigna shares fell 1.3 percent to $127.88. Anthem shares rose less than 1 percent.

Centene Corp., Molina Healthcare Inc. and WellCare Health Plans Inc. — potential targets for Anthem or Cigna if their deal breaks down — rose Monday. Centene was up 3.6 percent to $69.42, Molina gained 1.9 percent to $51.98 and WellCare rose 3.8 percent to $109.21.

Challenges to the health insurance mergers have been growing, with an influential doctors’ group and presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton both calling for reviews. 

Related 

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Personnel Changes: WellPoint, Guardian, ACORD

California OKs Anthem-WellPoint Deal

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