A federal judge rejected Monday’s Department of Justice (DOJ) attempts to stop UnitedHealth Group’s acquisition of Change Healthcare, a payment processing, and data processing company, for $13 billion. This is a major blow to the Biden administration’s efforts to strengthen antitrust enforcement.
Since last summer’s executive order, which required enforcement agencies to be more aggressive in an effort to increase competition and decrease the power of large conglomerates, stricter antitrust enforcement has been a Biden administration goal. According to The Wall Street Journal, the DOJ claimed that UnitedHealth should not be allowed to own Change because its competitors in the insurance sector use Change Healthcare’s systems for competition with UnitedHealth.
The deal was approved by Trump-appointed Judge Carl J. Nichols, with the condition that Change sells its subsidiary ClaimsXten as per the court order. Optum hailed the deal as an opportunity for both companies to unite their power to provide simpler and more efficient services to patients, providers, and payers.
The spokesperson for UnitedHealth Group told Daily Caller News Foundation, that the conglomerate hoped the deal would be completed quickly so that “together we can continue our work in making the health system better for all.”
Despite negotiating an almost $85 million settlement with poultry producers for antitrust violations this summer, the administration has been struggling in recent weeks to keep its antitrust tough stance. According to The Wall Street Journal, a bill to dismantle Big Tech has been blocked in Congress. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which was trying to stop Illumina’s purchase of cancer-testing company Grail by biotechnology firm Illumina, recently lost a case.
— Bertha Coombs (@berthacoombs) September 19, 2022
“We respectfully disagree” with the court’s decision. Assistant Attorney General Johnathan Kanter spoke on behalf of DOJ’s Antitrust Division in an interview. The Antitrust Division and Department of Justice are committed to protecting competition and ensuring affordable healthcare.
According to the WSJ, a ruling on the DOJ’s suit against Penguin Random House Publishers and Simon & Schuster is expected. According to the WSJ, their combined market share would be about a third of all U.S. book sales and they would combine the largest and the third-largest publishers in America.
The DCNF was directed by the DOJ to Kanter’s statement.
Change Healthcare did not respond immediately to a request for comment.