A district court judge on Monday denied the Department of Justice's (DOJ) request to halt the planned merger of UnitedHealth Group and health care technology company Change Healthcare, according to a court filing.
The decision comes over six months after the DOJ first sued to block the multi billion-dollar merger in February, arguing it would negatively impact competition in the health insurance and claims-processing technology markets. In the same U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia filing, the judge also ordered UnitedHealth, which runs one of the U.S.'s largest health insurers, and Change to divest the claims payment software business ClaimsXten to private equity firm TPG Capital.
"We respectfully disagree with the court's decision and are reviewing the opinion closely to evaluate next steps," Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Kanter said in a statement. "Protecting competition and access to affordable healthcare is of the upmost importance to the Antitrust Division and the Department of Justice."
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Meanwhile, UnitedHealth told FOX Business it was "pleased with the decision and look[s] forward to combining Change Healthcare as quickly as possible so that together we can continue our work to make the health system work better for everyone."
Change announced in early January 2021 that it and Optum, a health services subsidiary of UnitedHealth, would combine. In April 2022, UnitedHealth said the companies had decided to extend the merger agreement to the end of December of this year.