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Last week, the Justice Department developed a new task force focused on healthcare monopolies, which will be tasked with investigating industry market consolidation, workforce issues, quality of care, access, and data management, according to a press release. Department officials are increasingly concerned about consolidation in healthcare. For example, the recent Change Health cyberattack shed new light on the size and reach of UnitedHealth Group and its many arms—including the Optum line of business that is now the nation’s largest employer of physicians. All this is simultaneously set against a backdrop of frequent provider roll-ups within private equity portfolios. The department says it’s looking to “identify and root out monopolies and collusive practices that increase costs, decrease quality, and create single points of failure in the healthcare industry.” Public comments can be submitted to the Task Force on Health Care Monopolies and Collusion by visiting

In your market: “On a local level, we are seeing instances where increased hospital consolidation and health system acquisition of community primary and urgent care practices—when combined with hospital and payer coordination in accountable and value-based care—can shut off access to patient populations for non-affiliated practices while also raising operating costs, primarily in competition for labor,” says Alan Ayers, President of Experity Consulting and Senior Editor of The Journal of Urgent Care Medicine. “State hospital associations are very powerful, well-funded, and often unchallenged lobbies, so the bigger concern is when they use legislative processes to impose their inefficient cost structures on everyone else. For example, they might influence regulatory Occupational Safety and Health Administration guidelines to impose hospital-level certifications on small practices or influence labor rules to impose hospital collective-bargaining outcomes on all healthcare providers, thus tilting the playing field in their favor.”

DOJ Launches Healthcare Monopoly Task Force