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DOJ to appeal approval of $13 billion UHG-Change Healthcare deal

by John R. Fischer, Senior Reporter | November 30, 2022
Business Affairs Health IT Insurance
The DOJ is appealing the court approval of the UnitedHealth Group's acquisition of Change Healthcare.
The U.S. Department of Justice plans to appeal a court ruling that approved UnitedHealth Group’s $13 billion acquisition of Change Healthcare.

The deal was completed in October, following months in court with the DOJ, which argued that the deal would create a monopoly for UHG by giving it access to sensitive information from rival insurers and hinder competition in the health IT space.

But U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols ruled in September in favor of UGH, which argued that Optum is separate from its insurance sector, UnitedHealthcare, and that there were policies to protect sensitive data.
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Bloomberg reported its appeal plans after finding a filing on the case docket. A UnitedHealth spokesperson told the news outlet that “the appeal is without merit.”

The companies announced the deal in January 2021, with Optum agreeing to pay $8 billion, plus an additional $5 billion for Change’s debts.

The acquisition combines Change Healthcare’s technology for integrating evidence-based clinical criteria directly into clinician workflow with UHG subsidiary Optum’s clinical analytics expertise and Individual Health Record to help clinicians make faster and more informed decisions.

It also speeds up and makes services more accurate by integrating Optum's advanced data analytics with Change’s intelligent healthcare network to collect more insights from billions of claims. Optum also plans to utilize Change’s payment capacities to simplify transactions in its automated payment network, creating more transparency in real time and enhancing IT workflow.

Critics say the deal will lead to price hikes for hospitals and lower quality of care. The DOJ filed a suit in February to halt the deal on the basis of these concerns. The suit followed an investigation it launched in March 2021.

To resolve antitrust concerns, the companies have agreed to divest Change’s claims editing business of ClaimsXten to TPG Capital, which was also a condition of the court order that approved the merger.

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