Category Archives: Antitrust

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“Historic” Settlement of Blue Cross Blue Shield Association Antitrust Action May Significantly Boost Competition in Health Insurance Markets in 2021

After over 8 years of hard-fought litigation, the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, together with its 36 Blue Cross/Blue Shield members (“the Blues”), recently announced a proposed settlement of class action antitrust litigation (In re Blue Cross Blue Shield Antitrust Litigation) brought against them by a nationwide class of subscriber members. The settlement terms, summarized in the … Continue Reading

House Passes Bill that Would Repeal Health Insurer Antitrust Exemption

The U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 1418, the “Competitive Health Insurance Reform Act,” by a voice vote on September 21. The legislation, which was introduced back in early 2019 by Congressman Peter DeFazio (D-Oregon), would reduce the scope of the McCarran Ferguson Act’s antitrust exemption, which currently provides insurers with an exemption from the federal antitrust laws. … Continue Reading

DOJ Antitrust Division Grants Green Light for Pharma Companies Sharing COVID-19 Treatment Drug Production Information

The Department of Justice Antitrust Division has advised several pharmaceutical companies that they can share competitive information regarding the status of their respective efforts to develop a COVID-19 treatment without running afoul of the federal antitrust laws.  Specifically, in a letter issued on July 23, the Antitrust Division stated that it had no intention to challenge a proposal by … Continue Reading

California Legislature Responds to COVID-19 Crisis With Legislation that Would Require State Approval of Healthcare Mergers and Acquisitions

As healthcare providers around the country struggle to respond to patient needs during the Covid-19 crisis, many are reportedly struggling financially as well. In the past, this scenario has led to an increase in merger and acquisition activity, and many healthcare analysts are predicting an increase in such activity for the second half of the year and into 2021.

In … Continue Reading

DOJ/FTC Issue Warning to Healthcare Industry Regarding Anticompetitive Conduct Against Employees During the COVID-19 Crisis

While this period of crisis due to the pandemic has led competitors to cooperate, the crisis does not serve as an excuse for anticompetitve conduct. The Department of Justice Antitrust Division (the “Antitrust Division”) and the Federal Trade Commission (the “FTC” and with the Antitrust Division, the “Agencies”) have issued a warning to the healthcare industry that, while combatting the … Continue Reading

DOJ Antitrust Division Approves COVID-related Competitor Collaboration Under Expedited Procedures

The Department of Justice Antitrust Division (the “Antitrust Division”) has granted its approval to a plan by a group of medical supply manufacturers to collaborate in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In a business review letter issued on April 4, the Antitrust Division stated that McKesson Corp., Cardinal Health, Owens & Minor, Medline Industries and Henry Schein Inc. could work … Continue Reading

FTC Brings First Hospital Merger Challenge Since 2016

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced on February 27 that it has filed an administrative complaint challenging the proposed merger of Jefferson Health (Jefferson) and Albert Einstein Healthcare Network (Einstein), two Philadelphia-area hospital systems. The action is the FTC’s first hospital merger challenge since late 2016, when the agency successfully challenged the Hershey/Pinnacle Health transaction, also in Pennsylvania.

In this … Continue Reading

FTC Commissioners Call for Study on the Competitive Effects of Consummated Healthcare Transactions that Did Not Previously Receive Regulatory Review

The Federal Trade Commission announced on February 11, 2020 that it had issued Special Orders to five large technology companies, requiring them to provide information to the FTC concerning all corporate acquisitions they have completed over the last ten years that had not previously been required to be submitted for review by the FTC under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Act (HSR). The … Continue Reading

Sutter Health Settles California Attorney General Antitrust Case With Cash and an Agreement to Make Significant Changes to its Operations

The terms of a settlement that resolved antitrust litigation between the State of California and Sutter Health, the largest health system in Northern California, have now become public, almost two months after the settlement put an end to the case. The settlement, which was inked only days before a trial in the case was set to begin, includes both the … Continue Reading

Long Delayed CVS/Aetna Merger Finally Gains Court Approval

Concluding one of the longest merger reviews in history, on September 4, Judge Richard Leon, District Judge for the District of Columbia, issued his final ruling in United States v. CVS Health, approving the proposed settlement of the United States’ challenge to CVS’s merger with Aetna. The ruling concludes Judge Leon’s eleven month review of the proposed settlement, during … Continue Reading

FTC Prevails in Physician Merger Case Before the 8th Circuit

The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals recently handed the Federal Trade Commission another appellate victory in its efforts to curtail anticompetitive mergers in the healthcare industry, affirming the FTC’s earlier District Court victory in Federal Trade Commission v. Sanford Health. The decision follows a number of other recent FTC appellate victories in healthcare merger cases – in the … Continue Reading

Florida Legislature Repeals its “Certificate of Need” Law

In a somewhat surprising move, on April 29, 2019 the Florida Legislature passed legislation (HB 21) that repeals the state’s “Certificate of Need” (CON) laws with respect to general hospitals and tertiary services. Such laws, which are in place in many states, typically prohibit a healthcare provider from expanding its services and from entering new markets absent its … Continue Reading

District Court Further Extends Review of CVS/Aetna Merger

The District of Columbia District Court has again deferred its decision regarding whether to approve the merger between CVS Health and Aetna, a $69 billion transaction that was first announced back in December 2017. Notably, while the parties closed the transaction back in November of 2018, after reaching a proposed settlement with the US Department of Justice (DOJ) Antitrust Division … Continue Reading

Proposed Florida House Legislation Advances, Requiring Reporting to the State Proposed Hospital and Group Practice Acquisitions

A bill recently introduced in the Florida legislature (HB 1243) requires Florida hospitals and group physician practices contemplating mergers or acquisitions to provide advance notice of such transactions to the Florida Attorney General’s Office. The bill has been reported favorably out of the Florida Health Market Reform Subcommittee.  Currently, while the Florida Attorney General’s Office is authorized to, and frequently … Continue Reading

Antitrust Exemption Allows Health System to Avoid All Claims for Damages in Antitrust Class Action

Atrium Health (formerly known as Carolinas Healthcare System) scored a big victory in its defense of an antitrust class action on March 4, when the Court ruled that the plaintiffs in Benitez v. The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Hospital Authority, d/b/a Carolinas Health System, could not seek damages in the action. In granting the defendant’s motion for judgment on the pleadings on … Continue Reading

Multiple States Considering Possible Modification to Their “Certificate of Need” Laws

In December, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issued a report – “Reforming America’s Healthcare System Through Choice and Competition” – expressly calling upon the states to repeal their “Certificate of Need” (CON) laws. In the report, HHS indicated that the existence of such laws – which typically prevent healthcare providers from expanding their services/entering new … Continue Reading

CVS Completes Acquisition of Aetna

In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission on November 26, CVS Health Corporation announced that it has received all of the regulatory approvals necessary to complete its acquisition of Aetna and that the transaction will close on or before November 28. The announcement follows the recent approvals of the deal received from California and New York regulators. CVS … Continue Reading

DOJ Settles “Anti-Steering” Antitrust Case Against Atrium Health

The United States Department of Justice Antitrust Division announced on November 15 that it was settling its antitrust lawsuit against Atrium Health (formerly known as Carolinas Health System). The action, United States v. Atrium Health, filed in the United States District Court for the Western District of North Carolina, challenged Atrium’s use of restrictions in its contracts with commercial … Continue Reading

DOJ Approves CVS/Aetna Merger, Contingent on the Sale of Aetna’s Medicare Part D Business

The United States Department of Justice Antitrust Division announced on October 10, 2018, that it was conditionally approving the CVS/Aetna merger, a $69 billion transaction that combines the nation’s largest retail pharmacy chain and the nation’s third largest health insurer. The deal, which was announced late last year, has been under review by the Antitrust Division (and state regulators) since … Continue Reading

Drug Pricing Legislation Sent to the President for Enactment into Law

Two pieces of related legislation that would prohibit so called “gag clauses” in contracts between pharmacists and health plans and pharmacy benefit managers (PBM’s) have been passed by both the Senate and the House. The legislation prohibits any restrictions on the ability of pharmacists to alert consumers to situations where it may be less expensive for them to pay for … Continue Reading

DOJ Antitrust Division Grants Approval to Proposed Cigna/Express Scripts Merger

On September 17, the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) Antitrust Division issued a “closing statement” in which it announced that it was closing its investigation into Cigna’s proposed acquisition of Express Scripts, a transaction valued at $67 billion. The announcement states that “After a thorough review of the proposed transaction, the Antitrust Division has determined that the combination of … Continue Reading

FTC Announces Settlement of Antitrust Action Against Therapist Staffing Company Accused of Fixing Therapist Wages

In the Matter of Your Therapy Source, LLC – is the most recent example of federal antitrust enforcers’ increasing interest in curtailing anticompetitive conduct in employee markets, which was first announced when the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) issued guidance on the subject in late 2016. See Antitrust Guidance For Human Resource Professionals (available hereContinue Reading

House Commerce Committee Urges the FTC to Investigate Past PBM Mergers

The leadership of the House Energy & Commerce Committee has called upon the Federal Trade Commission to undertake a retrospective review of past mergers involving pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs). Specifically, in a July 27 letter to FTC Chairman Joseph Simons, House Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) requested that the FTC examine “(1) how these mergers have affected downstream prices … Continue Reading

States Begin to Hold Hearings on the Proposed CVS/Aetna Merger

In December of 2017, CVS Health and Aetna announced their intention to merge. The transaction, if approved by regulators, would combine the country’s second largest pharmacy benefit manager (PBM), Caremark – a CVS subsidiary – and the nation’s third largest commercial health insurer, Aetna, and has been valued at $69 billion. Since the announcement, federal and state regulators have been … Continue Reading

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