UnitedHealth Group completed its purchase of Change Healthcare, the company announced Monday morning, after defeating the Department of Justice in federal court over the agency’s attempt to block the $13 billion deal.
It does not appear the DOJ will challenge the deal in appellate court. Letting the deal go through without an appeal is viewed as a major setback for the DOJ, antitrust legal experts told Healthcare Dive.
The DOJ has lost two merger cases in court this year. A decision is still pending in the third case, the DOJ’s high-profile suit against two merging book publishers.
The DOJ had sued to block the health giant from buying health technology firm Change Healthcare over allegations UnitedHealth would mine data from billions of healthcare claims including from its health insurance rivals. But on Sept. 19, federal Judge Carl Nichols ruled in favor of UnitedHealth, dealing a blow to the agency.
Judge Nichols, a Trump appointee, said in his opinion that the DOJ’s arguments had “serious flaws” and that it relied on “speculation” rather than real-world evidence to prove its antitrust claims.
UnitedHealth and the DOJ previously agreed that the deal would not close any earlier than 10 days after a judge’s eventual ruling. The 10-day mark passed by last week without notice from the DOJ about appealing the ruling, raising questions about whether the agency would let the deal go through.
As of Monday morning, the DOJ has yet to file an appeal in court, even though the DOJ has said it tries to block deals from closing because it’s hard to “unscramble” deals after they complete.
The DOJ has already said it will file an appeal in another merger case it lost in court, a ruling that came days after the UnitedHealth-Change decision.
Change suspended trading on The Nasdaq Stock Market on Monday, according to a delisting filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
To alleviate other antitrust concerns, UnitedHealth agreed to divest ClaimsXten to private equity group TPG Capital.