What UnitedHealth Group CEO said at trial challenging Change Healthcare merger

UnitedHealth Group CEO Andrew Witty was among those who testified during the Justice Department's legal challenge to the $13 billion proposed merger of UnitedHealth Group's Optum and Change Healthcare.

The trial began Aug. 1 after the Justice Department sued, arguing the merger would harm competition in commercial markets, raise costs for millions of people and give UnitedHealth too much power in electronic data transactions. 

UnitedHealth countered that the feds' challenge has "no basis in fact and law." 

Mr. Witty said UnitedHealth and OptumInsight and the other companies under the Optum umbrella are kept "strictly at arms' length," Law360 reported Aug. 10. Mr. Witty said the insurer and unit operate in a supplier-purchaser relationship rather than as two parts of an enterprise. 

He said OptumInsight develops data products for rival insurers as well as for UnitedHealthcare, its primary customer, according to the report. He said that boosting UnitedHealthcare would inhibit Optum's ability to grow, which is dependent on its capacity to sell to everyone else.   

Closing arguments in the case are scheduled for Sept. 8, according to court records.

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