Lawmakers want feds to 'carefully scrutinize' UnitedHealth's Amedisys acquisition

A pair of lawmakers are calling on the Federal Trade Commission and the Justice Department's antitrust division to "carefully scrutinize" UnitedHealth Group's proposed $3.3 billion acquisition of home and hospice care provider Amedisys.

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Washington Rep. Pramila Jayapal expressed concern in a letter to the federal agencies that the deal would increase UnitedHealth Group's market dominance, reduce competition, hurt patients and increase healthcare costs. 

The lawmakers said that UnitedHealth's "enormous reach and vertically integrated structure has allowed the company to profit off of every part of the healthcare system, controlling and steering patients, workers, and taxpayers into more profitable services" for itself. They said current estimates find that 25 percent of the company's total revenue comes from its subsidiaries. 

"Now, as the U.S. population ages and more people become eligible for Medicare, [UnitedHealth] and other large insurers are looking to cash in on the booming home health industry, allowing them to keep more premium dollars inhouse from treating patients at insurer-owned facilities," they wrote. 

They also called on the agencies to scrutinize similar deals and reject behavioral or structural remedies and oppose any healthcare acquisition that would threaten competition, increase prices, and reduce quality of care, according to an Oct. 4 news release from Ms. Jayapal's office. 

Amedisys shareholders on Sept. 8 overwhelmingly approved the acquisition. The deal, first announced in June, is already facing scrutiny from the Justice Department, which requested additional information about the proposed merger in August and extended the waiting period for the deal under federal law.

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