AHA Requests Investigation of UnitedHealth Group's $13B Proposal to Acquire Change Healthcare

March 19, 2021
Samara Rosenfeld

The acquisition may affect health IT services and health data.

The American Hospital Association (AHA) is requesting the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice (DOJ) conduct a thorough investigation of UnitedHealth Group’s proposed $13 billion acquisition of Change Healthcare, saying it “threatens to reduce competition for the sale of healthcare information technology services to hospitals and other healthcare providers, which could negatively impact consumers and healthcare providers.”

In the letter to DOJ, AHA says both UnitedHealth Group and Change Healthcare are well aware the transaction brings about substantial antitrust concerns due to the fact the agreement states the parties will divest assets that generate hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue in order to obtain approval. Further, AHA believes the acquisition would produce a massive consolidation of competitively sensitive healthcare data and shift them from Change Healthcare to Optum, a subsidiary of UnitedHealth Group. Since UnitedHealth Group owns UnitedHealthcare, AHA claims the combination of the data sets would impact and potentially distort decisions about patient care and claims processing and denials to the detriment of consumers and providers.

“The transaction will result in an anticompetitive loss of head-to-head competition between Optum and Change,” AHA writes in the letter to Richard Powers, acting assistant attorney general of the Antitrust Division of DOJ.

AHA says the transaction will affect claims clearinghouse services, payment accuracy services, revenue cycle management services, and clinical decision support services.

DOJ and the Federal Trade Commission have until March 24 to decide whether to let the deal go through or force changes.