Health insurer Anthem Inc. pressed Friday to salvage its proposed $54 billion acquisition of Cigna Corp., arguing before a Washington federal appeals court that the deal would drive down costs for consumers.

"This is dollars in the consumer's pocket," Anthem's lawyer, White & Case partner Christopher Curran, told the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

The hearing unfolded in a crowded courtroom in downtown Washington as lawmakers and White House officials scrambled, blocks away, to put forward a bill to repeal and replace the Obama administration's Affordable Care Act. The Justice Department has argued the merger would hurt competition for consumers who receive health insurance through the ACA's public exchanges, along with millions of others who receive insurance from their employers.

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C. Ryan Barber

C. Ryan Barber, based in Washington, covers government affairs and regulatory compliance. Contact him at [email protected]. On Twitter: @cryanbarber