Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) and Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Washington) have called on the U.S. Justice Department (DOJ) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to “scrutinize” the pending acquisition of Amedisys (NASDAQ: AMED) by Optum Health.
Optum, a subsidiary of UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UHN), in June penned its agreement to acquire Amedisys in an all-cash transaction of $101 per share, or about $3.3 billion. Optum swooped in with this offer after Amedisys began the process of a merger with Option Care in what would have been an all-stock deal amounting to $3.6 billion.
Warren and Jayapal voiced antitrust concerns in their letter to Jonathan Kanter, head of the Justice Department’s antitrust division and FTC Chair Lina Khan.
“The acquisition of Amedisys by UHG is one such transaction that the agencies should examine, though by no means the only one of its kind,” the senators wrote. “We therefore urge the agencies to closely scrutinize this and other similar acquisitions and block any activity found to be illegal under antitrust law.”
The Amedisys deal is among a slew of large acquisitions by Optum, which include the home health and hospice provider LHC Group and the health care tech company Change Healthcare.
Optum closed its $5.4 billion acquisition of LHC Group in February.
Warren and Jayapal’s letter is not the first time lawmakers have questioned the scope of Optum’s deals.
A federal court in Sept. 2022 ruled in favor of Optum after DOJ sought to block the $13 billion Change Healthcare transaction on antitrust grounds. The Justice Department alleged that the deal would give UnitedHealth Group access to sensitive information about its competitors in the payer space.
In August, Amedisys indicated in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that the Justice Department had requested additional information about the Optum transaction.
“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 wrote.