Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) not only wants the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to carefully review upcoming merger deals, but she also wants the agency to break open the seal of already approved transactions.
Currently in Warren’s crosshairs is the CVS / Oak Street Health plan. The senator wrote a letter to the FTC asking for scrutiny over the $10.6 billion deal. Oak Street Health deals primarily with Medicare recipients and has 169 medical centers in 21 states and employs around 600 physicians. CVS believes Oak Street Health would upgrade its primary care space.
Warren, however, is not stopping at the CVS / Oak Street venture. In her letter to the FTC, Warren also wants the agency to take another look at “previous acquisitions of primary and home health care companies by large health insurers and retailers like United, Humana, WBA, Walmart and Amazon.”
"In particular, I fear that the acquisition of thousands of independent providers by a few massive health care megaconglomerates could reduce competition on a local or national basis, hurting patients and increasing health care costs," she said in the letter to the FTC.
The Department of Justice was going to appeal a judge’s approval of UnitedHealth Group’s acquisition of Change Healthcare, but the agency changed course.
CVS Health and Oak Street are hoping to close their partnership later this year.
Bringing CVS Health and Oak Street Health together could reduce care costs and improve outcomes, particularly for those in underserved communities, where Oak Street focuses its services, according to CVS.
A key feature of Oak Street is its integrated technology solution, Canopy, which is used to determine the appropriate type and level of care for each patient. That care will be enhanced by CVS Health’s community, home and digital offerings, the companies said.
Oak Street’s Medicare-focused services complement CVS’s own assets, including its 1,100-plus MinuteClinics, in several ways. For example, MinuteClinics offer convenient access and additional clinical capacity for Oak Street, with preventive care and chronic care services for seniors. The merger also would enhance access to CVS’s nurse practitioner workforce, and CVS would be able to provide “wraparound” services such as medication reconciliation and post-discharge follow-ups.
By 2026, Oak Street Health expects to operate more than 300 centers.
The announcement of the Oak Street acquisition follows CVS’s agreement last year to acquire Signify Health, which has a network of physicians and other health care professional that conduct home-based patient visits and then connect patients to appropriate follow-up care and resources.