Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) urges the Federal Trade Commission to take a close look at CVS Health planned acquisition from health insurance-focused primary care provider Oak Street Health.
In a letter To FTC Chairman Lina Khan and Commissioners Alvaro Bedoya and Rebecca Slaughter, the progressive senator wrote that the deal could reduce the quality of care and increase costs.
She also mentioned other acquisitions – including UnitedHealth Group’s purchase of a home care provider LHC GroupWalgreens stake in primary care business VillageMD and its agreement with Care Centrixand Amazon’s acquisition of A medical – as part of a push toward vertical integration, “the creation of a few large healthcare conglomerates that control all aspects of patient care pathway. »
CVS also owns insurer Aetna and pharmaceutical benefits manager CVS Caremark. Last year the company announced its intention to buy Signify Health home health platform.
Warren noted that the growth of value-based care arrangements has the potential to improve health outcomes and reduce costs, but added that a number of healthcare companies see “an opportunity significant way to make money,” especially by acquiring primary care or home care businesses that take Medicare Advantage plans.
“Given the potential risk that vertical integration could lead to higher health care prices and lower quality of care, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) should carefully review this agreement, and others like it, and oppose any health care acquisitions that threaten competition, raise prices, and reduce the quality of care,” Warren wrote in the letter. “The FTC should also retrospectively review similar agreements reached and challenge in court any merger that reduced competition in violation of antitrust laws.”
CVS did not respond to a request for comment.
THE GREAT TREND
After weeks of rumors, CVS has confirmed that it has signed a $10.6 billion deal to buy Oak Street in early February. It marked another step into the primary care space for a major retailer, which also saw activity from companies like Walgreens, Walmart and Amazon.
Experts have noted that expanding retail healthcare could provide patients with better access to care, as large retail pharmacies have locations across the United States. But it is also necessary that companies build trust with patients as primary care providers and set up better care coordination workflows.
“I think there are a lot of positives for retail players in terms of meeting consumer preferences and providing care in a more convenient way,” said Sanjula Jain, senior vice president of strategy. market manager and director of research at Trilliant Health. MobiHealthNews in December. “But for a lot of complex care, acute care — which every American will need at some point in their life — there’s a little more fragmentation.”
Tracy Chu will offer more details during her HIMSS23 session “Automation Improves Performance in Digital Education Applications”. It is scheduled for Wednesday, April 19 from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. CT at the South Building, Level 5, Room S505.