States are intensifying their examination of health mergers and acquisitions

Unseen and Acquired: The Rise of Optum’s Physician Practice Empire and the Need for Increased Healthcare Oversight

In recent years, Optum, a subsidiary of UnitedHealth Group, has experienced significant growth by acquiring numerous physician practices. With over 90,000 providers under its ownership or affiliation, Optum accounts for nearly 10% of all physicians in the United States. However, most of these acquisitions have gone unnoticed by the public. That is until a recent purchase in Oregon drew significant scrutiny from state regulators.

Oregon has been at the forefront of advocating for increased oversight in healthcare mergers and acquisitions. The state already has some of the most stringent health care market oversight laws in the country, and this has prompted other states to follow suit. Illinois, Minnesota, and New York have all approved similar oversight programs, leading to increased scrutiny for deals in those states. Additionally, five more states – Vermont, Washington, Pennsylvania, Indiana, and New Mexico – are currently considering legislation to begin or expand their own oversight programs.

This trend reflects a growing concern about the impact of healthcare industry mergers and acquisitions on patients and the broader healthcare system. As more deals occur without adequate oversight, there is a risk that patient care may suffer and that competition within the industry may be reduced. By increasing regulation and oversight, these states hope to mitigate these risks and ensure that patients receive high-quality care from a diverse range of providers.

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