You can always count on the American Hospital Association (AHA) to address red flags from insurers, namely, UnitedHealthcare. Thumbs. Up.
AHA’s latest effort involves a letter addressed to the Department of Justice (DOJ) Antitrust Division expressing concern over the UnitedHealthcare acquisition of Change Healthcare, according to a recent article in RevCycleIntelligence.
The letter expresses concerns related to reduced market competition that UnitedHealthcare’s acquisition of Change Healthcare would create, along with the conflicts of interest that may result from United’s gaining the latter’s proprietary dataset.
But we already knew how AHA feels about this United/Change deal, though – this letter is just the latest. Here’s a quick recap:
- 01/21: Optum and United agree to combine…for a cool $7.84 billion in cash, plus about $5 billion in debt.
- 03/21: AHA wrote an initial letter to the DOJ asking for a “stringent review,” stating that the deal would create a huge consolidation of healthcare and patient data owned by the largest U.S. health insurer. This data merge would affect patient care decisions and increase United’s market power, the organization said.
- 03/21: The DOJ requested additional information from United, which the insurer cooperatively provided.
- 08/21 Then, new reports emerged, alleging that the DOJ is weighing a lawsuit to block the deal (small progress!).
- 08/21: The AHA “just circles back” with a new letter.
AHA’s latest letter doubles down on their initial concerns, outlining specific patient harms they anticipate if the deal goes through.
These harms largely relate to United gaining more power. Such a monopoly of the market could mean that United favors its own health plans over their competitors’, or that United will modify Change’s clinical support algorithms to favor payors over patients. (We wouldn’t be surprised if either occurs.) We don’t even want to mention the data that United would have access to (ahem, competitors’ pricing and other sensitive information), should this merger go through.
AHA has continued to raise the alarm over this acquisition. Will the DOJ continue to ignore the warnings, or will this pen pal respond with good news?