Sen. Warren urges FTC to review CVS-Oak Street deal

Sen. Elizabeth Warren is asking the Federal Trade Commission to review CVS Health's proposed $10.6 billion acquisition of Oak Street Health.

In a letter sent to the FTC March 22, the Massachusetts Democrat also called for other recent vertical integration deals in healthcare to be reviewed that may impact "competition and care quality."

"I also ask that, using your authority under the FTC and Clayton Acts, you retroactively analyze previous acquisitions of primary and home health care companies by large health insurers and retailers such as United, Humana, WBA, Walmart, and Amazon. If the FTC determines that any of these deals violated antitrust law, I urge you to unravel them," she wrote.

CVS announced its intention to buy Oak Street in early February. The Chicago-based company manages a value-based primary care network with more than 160 clinics in 21 states that primarily focus on Medicare beneficiaries. By 2026, the company expects to have more than 300 locations, representing a major expansion for CVS into primary care.

The deal is still expected to close this year and would be CVS' second multibillion-dollar purchase in the last year. In September, the company announced plans to acquire Signify Health, a home health network of more than 10,000 clinicians in all 50 states, for around $8 billion. 

CVS has faced FTC scrutiny around the Signify deal. The Department of Justice sent both companies a second request for information about the merger on Oct. 19. 

"CVS Health and Signify Health have been working cooperatively with the DOJ and will continue to do so," said CVS in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. 

Amazon completed its $3.9 billion acquisition of virtual and in-person primary care company One Medical in late February after reportedly facing FTC scrutiny of the deal. The agency found evidence of anticompetitive tactics but decided it was too hard of a case to win, people with knowledge of the agency's thinking told Politico March 20.

Last fall, UnitedHealth Group purchased Change Healthcare for $7.8 billion following a legal challenge from the DOJ. The government appealed its loss of the antitrust case, but dropped that appeal March 21, according to Reuters.

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