Bolton Labor News: Edition No. 10: May 2024

By Bolton May 16th, 2024

DOJ Announces Formation of Task Force on Health Care Monopolies and Collusion

When we hear about healthcare integration, we often think about health systems buying other health systems or point solution companies merging. But what about carriers purchasing clinical assets?

Dedicated to promoting antitrust enforcement, Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Kanter remarked, “these [carriers] are multisided giants that are accumulating assets at an alarming rate," asserting that healthcare is increasingly coming under the purview of "a coordinated stack" of platform companies combining different industry sectors. Kanter pointed to insurance companies buying up healthcare providers "at an extraordinary clip" amid a data boom where algorithms are playing an increasingly prominent role in how healthcare is provided and priced.

On May 9, 2024, the Department of Justice (DOJ) Antitrust Division announced it's sharpening its focus on healthcare platforms that combine doctors with insurers, data, and more through its new Task Force on Health Care Monopolies and Collusion (HCMC).

Additional concerns around payer-provider consolidation, serial acquisitions, labor and quality of care, medical billing, healthcare IT services, access to and misuse of healthcare data, and more are shared by the HCMC, patients, healthcare professionals, businesses, and entrepreneurs. The DOJ hopes to address these widespread concerns commenting, "The HCMC will bring together civil and criminal prosecutors, economists, healthcare industry experts, technologists, data scientists, investigators and policy advisors from across the division's Civil, Criminal, Litigation and Policy Programs, and the Expert Analysis Group, to identify and address pressing antitrust problems in healthcare markets."

With new transparency laws emphasizing fiduciary management of health plan assets, and the significant costs associated with new drug classes, gene therapies and other treatments, the DOJ’s increasing interest in healthcare is a hopeful indication of future steps to address rising costs of health benefits.