Lawmakers are hoping to direct further scrutiny toward UnitedHealth Group’s (NYSE: UNH) pending deal of the home health giant Amedisys Inc. (Nasdaq: AMED).
Specifically, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) have asked antitrust regulators to take a closer look.
“We urge DOJ and FTC to closely scrutinize UnitedHealth’s proposed acquisition of Amedisys and oppose the growing trend of insurers buying up health care providers to reduce competition and pad their profits at the expense of their patients,” Warren and Jayapal reportedly wrote in a letter to the Department of Justice (DOJ) Tuesday.
UnitedHealth Group’s Optum agreed to acquire Amedisys in late June for $3.3 billion in an all-cash deal. Optum also completed its $5.4 billion deal of LHC Group – another home health giant – in February. If the Amedisys deal goes through, it’s expected that Optum would own about 10% of the U.S. home health market.
The DOJ filed a request for additional information regarding the Amedisys deal in August.
“This is a huge transaction,” Les Levinson, co-chair of the transactional health care practice Robinson & Cole LLP, told Home Health Care News at the time. “You’ve got a handful of public companies. LHC was acquired earlier, and I think that most practitioners and most deal people would agree that putting LHC and Amedisys under one umbrella was going to get government scrutiny.”
Based in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Amedisys provides home health, hospice and high-acuity care in the home via over 520 care centers in 37 states and the District of Columbia.
UnitedHealth Group has two sides of its operations. The first is UnitedHealthcare, which is one of the largest insurance providers in the country. The other is Optum, which is a diversified health care services provider that delivers primary, specialty, urgent, surgical and home health and hospice care to about 103 million consumers.
Amedisys and UnitedHealth Group are expecting their deal to close in 2024.
LHC Group and Amedisys do have “minimal overlap” in coverage, which could negate some of the antitrust concerns, analysts previously noted.
“The acquisition of Amedisys by [UnitedHealth Group] is one such transaction that the agencies should examine, though by no means the only one of its kind,” Warren and Jayapal continued. “We therefore urge the agencies to closely scrutinize this and other similar acquisitions and block any activity found to be illegal under antitrust law.”