The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on June 10 made a formal request for information to UnitedHealth Group regarding the integrated health care giant’s announced purchase of LHC Group, Inc., a home health care provider, which could be an indication that the antitrust watchdog will move to block the deal. Experts tell AIS Health, a division of MMIT, that it’s not a certainty that the FTC will take such an action, given the fragmented nature of the home health care industry, but add that UnitedHealth’s singular size and diversification exposes the firm to higher antitrust scrutiny than other national health insurance or provider firms.
UnitedHealth announced its plans to acquire LHC in April, saying it would spend about $6 billion to purchase the provider and amortize some of its debt. The health care giant revealed the FTC’s request for information in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. UnitedHealth has acquired dozens of smaller companies in recent years — and antitrust regulators have begun to pay closer attention as its spending spree has gone on. Notably, in February, the Dept. of Justice sued to block UnitedHealth’s bid to acquire Change Healthcare, Inc., a data and analytics company, joining the state attorneys general of New York and Minnesota in the antitrust enforcement action.