DOJ Probe of UnitedHealth Could Spawn Optum Spinoffs, SEC Review of Stock Sales

A group of lawmakers is urging federal regulators to investigate UnitedHealth executives’ sale of company stock right after learning that the health care firm was the target of a Dept. of Justice (DOJ) investigation concerning its provider-acquisition spree. As for the investigation itself, one antitrust lawyer says it could take years before the DOJ files a case — but if it does, regulators could try to force the health care giant to spin off all or part of its Optum division.

Meanwhile, the DOJ’s antitrust division on May 9 announced a new Task Force on Health Care Monopolies and Collusion, which it said will “guide the division’s enforcement strategy and policy approach in health care, including by facilitating policy advocacy, investigations and, where warranted, civil and criminal enforcement in health care markets.” Some of the competition concerns the task force will examine include “issues regarding payer-provider consolidation” and “serial acquisitions.”

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Leslie Small

Leslie Small

Leslie has been working in journalism since 2009 and reporting on the health care industry since 2014. She has covered the many ups and downs of the Affordable Care Act exchanges, the failed health insurer mega-mergers, and hundreds of other storylines spanning subjects such as Medicaid managed care, Medicare Advantage, employer-sponsored insurance, and prescription drug coverage. As the managing editor of Health Plan Weekly and Radar on Drug Benefits, she writes and edits for both publications while overseeing a small team of reporters who also focus on the managed care sector. Before joining AIS Health, she was a senior editor for the e-newsletter Fierce Health Payer, and she started her career as a copy editor at multiple local newspapers. She graduated with a dual degree in journalism and political science from Penn State University.

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