United-Change merger trial kicks off
UnitedHealth will go head-to-head with the US Department of Justice today as the trial regarding its $13 billion acquisition of health care technology company Change Healthcare gets underway.
What's happening: The DOJ has seven days to make its case on what it argues is an anticompetitive deal in nature. UHG/Change get five days to defend the tie-up they first proposed 19 months ago.
Zoom in: Leading up to the trial, the DOJ has alleged:
- UHG/Change would create a monopoly by marrying Change's EDI clearinghouse and claims editing technology with assets sitting under United's Optum business (ClaimsXten).
- United would gain unfair access to Change’s collection of software and services, now available to various health care players, for itself — along with access to any future innovation.
- The deal would further give UHG access to its rival health insurers’ competitively sensitive data.
The other side: An Optum official told Sarah in February that the company has had access to this kind of data for more than a decade — a fact the complaint ignores, the official said.
- Yes, and: Addressing concerns around the claims editing technology, Change has already agreed to sell ClaimsXten to TPG for $2.2 billion, pending completion of its deal with UHG.
- There are no contingencies that will prevent the ClaimsXten deal from going through if the court approves the UHG-Change merger, a person familiar with the matter says.
The bottom line: The case before a federal judge in Washington, D.C., is the biggest test yet of the Biden administration's antitrust efforts in health care — and could have far-reaching implications for future data M&A plays, our Vitals colleagues write.