An article in The New York Times Aug. 21 proposes that Aetna Inc.’s $5.7 billion purchase of Coventry Health Care Inc. is actually a bet by the insurer’s management that President Obama and his health care reform law will remain in place and Republicans will lose the Nov. 6 presidential election. Aetna’s leaders deny thinking that way. They say a good deal for the insurer is a good deal. But the article posits that the move to lay out billions for such an acquisition is proof-positive that Aetna and others like it see value in buying companies “with a foothold in government-sponsored programs because the prevailing view is that margins for private customers are going to steadily erode.” Other recent purchases in the health care sector seem to support this line of reasoning, notably WellPoint Inc.’s move to acquire Amerigroup Inc. for $5 billion last month and, earlier, Cigna Corp.’s $3.8 billion acquisition of HealthSpring Inc. How do these deals strike you? Are they plays to get in line with a permanent “Obama” health care system? And do you expect private customer margins to fall off as reform law implementation continues to occur?