$7.8 billion deal with UnitedHealth Change Healthcare wins court approval |  BenefitsPRO

$7.8 billion deal with UnitedHealth Change Healthcare wins court approval | BenefitsPRO

UnitedHealth Group Inc. won court approval for its $7.8 billion acquisition of Change Healthcare Inc., beating a Justice Department lawsuit that sought to block the deal.

A Washington federal judge’s decision on Monday is a victory for UnitedHealth Group, which has sought to diversify its business beyond insurance. The company plans to merge Change — which operates a network used by doctors, hospitals, dentists and pharmacies to exchange health insurance claims — with its Optum Insight data and consulting business.

In a one-page order, U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols ruled in favor of the merger and ordered the companies to divest ClaimsXten to TPG Capital, as proposed.

Shares of Change rose more than 7% in early trading on Tuesday. UnitedHealth shares were little changed.

UnitedHealth is satisfied with the verdict and looks forward to “partnering with Change Healthcare as quickly as possible,” a spokesperson said in an email. A Change spokeswoman also welcomed the verdict.

Jonathan Kanter, assistant attorney general in the Justice Department’s antitrust division, said in a statement that the agency is “carefully reviewing the notice to assess next steps.”

The judge, who was appointed by former President Donald Trump, said his legal analysis supporting the ruling would remain temporarily sealed because “it may contain competitively sensitive information.”

The move is a blow to President Joe Biden’s antitrust agenda. The case was the first major challenge to a health care deal to go to trial under the Biden administration. The government has argued that putting Change’s data on rival insurance companies in the hands of UnitedHealth could hurt competition. The companies countered that UnitedHealth had policies in place to protect sensitive data and that mining other insurers’ data would put its business at risk.

The case is US v UnitedHealth Group, 22-cv-481, US District Court for the District of Columbia.

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