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Warren Raises Concerns Over UnitedHealth’s Amedisys Deal

 |  October 4, 2023
Two prominent progressive Democrats, Senator Elizabeth Warren and Representative Pramila Jayapal, have called on antitrust regulators to thoroughly examine UnitedHealth’s planned $3.3 billion purchase of home-health provider Amedisys Inc. The lawmakers have also urged regulators to challenge deals that consolidate medical providers and health insurers under the same ownership.

UnitedHealth, the largest US health services company by revenue, has been successful in combining insurance with doctors’ practices, drug benefits, and other businesses. This strategy has inspired other companies like CVS Health Corp. and Humana Inc. to follow suit, expanding their operations beyond insurance and into various aspects of patient care. However, Warren and Jayapal are concerned about the growing trend of insurers acquiring healthcare providers, which they believe reduces competition.

In a letter addressed to President Joe Biden’s antitrust watchdogs, Warren and Jayapal emphasized the need to closely scrutinize the UnitedHealth-Amedisys deal and oppose the consolidation of insurers and healthcare providers. The lawmakers, known for their progressive stance within the Democratic party, are putting pressure on the Biden administration, which has faced challenges in blocking such deals through the courts, reported Bloomberg. 

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This is not the first time UnitedHealth has faced antitrust scrutiny. Last year, the Justice Department challenged the company’s bid to acquire health data and payments firm Change Healthcare Inc. However, following a trial, a federal court ruled in favor of the companies, allowing the deal to proceed. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) also investigated UnitedHealth’s acquisition of home-health company LHC Group earlier this year but ultimately did not challenge the merger.

Analysts predict that the Justice Department’s current probe will focus on potential overlaps between LHC Group and Amedisys. If the merger were to proceed, the combined entity would control approximately 10% of the national home health market, surpassing the current largest players, such as Humana CenterWell Home Health.

UnitedHealth remains confident about securing approval for the acquisition, citing the presence of thousands of companies providing in-home care and the absence of any single entity with a significant market share.

Warren and Jayapal argue that UnitedHealth has gained market power due to “lax antitrust enforcement” and acquisitions of smaller doctor groups that do not trigger antitrust reviews. They also believe that the agencies should have blocked UnitedHealth’s acquisition of LHC Group.

Source: Bnn Bloomberg