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FTC headquarters in Washington. Photo: Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

The Federal Trade Commission approved the $4.34 billion sale of DaVita's physician unit to Optum on Wednesday, a growing division of UnitedHealth Group; but Optum will be required to divest DaVita's large physician operations in Nevada to clear antitrust concerns.

The big picture: The deal, which has been under FTC review for 19 months, allows UnitedHealth to continue its conquest of all aspects of the health-care system — in this case, as a health insurer and care provider.

Details: The agreement stipulates Optum will have to sell DaVita's primary care group in the Las Vegas area to Intermountain Healthcare, a hospital system based in Utah. Those terms were not disclosed.

  • Optum already owns the other large physician group in the Las Vegas area, so if it acquired DaVita's operations, it would control 80% of the physician market, which "would allow UnitedHealth Group to exercise market power" and raise prices at will to other insurers, the FTC said in its complaint.
  • Because UnitedHealth is also the largest Medicare Advantage insurer in the area, controlling the 2 largest physician groups would allow UnitedHealth to charge rival plans more or exclude its doctors outright from competitors' networks.

That's not all: Colorado's attorney general negotiated a separate settlement to address anticompetitive concerns.

The bottom line: DaVita will now focus on its core dialysis business, while UnitedHealth maintains its position as one of the largest employers of doctors and biggest insurer for seniors.

Go deeper

Senate confirms retired Gen. Lloyd Austin as defense secretary

Photo: Greg Nash-Pool/Getty Images

The Senate voted 93-2 on Friday to confirm retired Gen. Lloyd Austin as secretary of defense. Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) were the sole "no" votes.

Why it matters: Austin is the first Black American to lead the Pentagon and President Biden's second Cabinet nominee to be confirmed.

House will transmit article of impeachment to Senate on Monday, Schumer says

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced that the House will deliver the article of impeachment against former President Trump for "incitement of insurrection" on Monday.

Why it matters: The Senate is required to begin the impeachment trial at 1pm the day after the article is transmitted.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Private equity bets on delayed tax reform in Biden administration

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

In normal times, private equity would be nervous about Democratic Party control of both the White House and Congress. But in pandemic-consumed 2021, the industry seems sanguine.

Driving the news: Industry executives and lobbyists paid very close attention to Treasury Secretary nominee Janet Yellen's confirmation hearings this week, and came away convinced that tax reform isn't on the near-term agenda.