(Bloomberg) -- Anthem Inc. said its proposed $48 billion merger with rival health insurer Cigna Corp. will lower consumer costs and extend coverage to more people, in response to a U.S. lawsuit seeking to block the deal.

The Indianapolis-based company also said the combined carrier would fortify the online insurance exchanges created under the Affordable Care Act at a time when other insurers are withdrawing from them, according to papers filed late Tuesday in federal court in Washington.

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