A federal judge has ruled against a Justice Department antitrust challenge to UnitedHealth Group’s $13 billion acquisition of Change Healthcare, a health tech firm, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday (Sept. 19). 

This sees a rejection of the claims that the deal would unlawfully shut down competition and limit innovation. The deal would bring Change Healthcare under the umbrella of Optum, a subsidiary of UnitedHealth.

Change Healthcare’s services help with payment processes for healthcare systems, analytics for financing and billing and tools to help hospitals with patient care decisions.

U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols has kept his opinion on the ruling under seal, saying it might “contain competitively sensitive information.” He said he’d reveal a redacted version soon.

The Justice Department has said the deal could give UnitedHealth Group a virtual monopoly on a tool used to determine when claims should be paid. And the department said UnitedHealth shouldn’t be allowed to own Change Healthcare’s data clearinghouse, which is often used in competition with UnitedHealth.

The decision is a win for UnitedHealth Group, as it owns the largest U.S. health insurer and a healthcare operation that comprises thousands of doctors, clinics and more. A spokesperson for the company said the company looks forward “to combining with Change Healthcare as quickly as possible so that together we can continue our work to make the health system work better for everyone.”

The Justice Department did not reply to a request for comment from PYMNTS.

Under the deal, UnitedHealth has agreed to divest business assets related to claims-processing, in order to address competition concerns.

Read more: UnitedHealth Group’s $13B Acquisition of Change Healthcare in DOJ Crosshairs

PYMNTS wrote earlier in the year that the lawsuit from the Justice Department was a part of the Biden administration’s attempt to fight corporate consolidation of “sensitive data that it could wield against its competitors in the insurance business.”

A spokesperson for Optum said the lawsuit came from a “deeply flawed” place and was based on “highly speculative theories that do not reflect the realities of the health care system.”

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https://www.pymnts.com/healthcare/2022/healthcare-takes-a-page-from-retails-omnichannel-payments-playbook/partial/

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