WASHINGTON — A federal judge Monday ruled against a Justice Department antitrust challenge to UnitedHealth Group Inc.’s
$13 billion acquisition of health-technology firm Change Healthcare Inc.
rejecting government claims that the deal would unlawfully suppress competition and limit innovation in health-insurance markets.
U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols ruled for the companies in an opinion that he kept under seal for now because he said it “may contain competitively sensitive information.” The judge said he would release a redacted public version of the ruling in the coming days. In a one-page public order, he denied the Justice Department’s request to block the companies from completing the deal.
The court ruling represents an early blow to stepped-up antitrust enforcement by the Biden administration, which sued in February to block the deal. The Justice Department didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
The decision is a triumph for UnitedHealth, which owns the largest U.S. health insurer and a healthcare operation that comprises thousands of doctors as well as clinics, surgery centers and other assets, along with a powerful conglomeration of health data.
In a statement, a UnitedHealth spokesman said, “We are pleased with the decision and look 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.”
An expanded version of this report appears on WSJ.com.
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