Healthcare sector challenges are driving $70M in new budget requests, says FTC

In its 2024 budget proposal, the Federal Trade Commission has requested an overall increase of $160 million to increase staffing levels, cover the increased costs of operations and provide employee pay increases.

Pursuing anticompetitive tactics and timing 

While Amazon is not the only Big Tech company to raise hackles at the 109-year-old Federal Trade Commission, it notably took a pass on challenging the company’s $3.9B merger with One Medical.

However, that does not mean the commission ruled the deal lawful.

Three people with knowledge of the commission’s efforts to look into Amazon’s OneMedical deal and its decision not to pursue the case spoke to Politico about the FTC’s evidence and alleged reasoning, as well as other deals the company made.

According to yesterday’s report:

“That evidence includes Amazon’s decision to abruptly end lengthy negotiations to poach some of One Medical’s corporate customers with cheaper pricing in favor of killing off its competing Amazon Care service and acquiring the company, those people said.”

The commission just didn’t think it could win its case at that time, they added.

Prior to the FTC’s review, U.S. Senator Josh Hawley, R-Mo., requested a deep dive into Amazon’s OneMedical purchase because of the amount of patient data it would have access to.

“I realize that the FTC is currently engaged in numerous efforts to combat America’s accelerating economic concentration and the power of tech behemoths,” Hawley wrote. 

“Nevertheless, I urge you to prioritize a searching review of this particular transaction.”

According to Politico, the Biden Administration may be gearing up to challenge Amazon on several of its mergers before the next term.

“The primary drivers of the commission’s increased resource needs are the high levels of market concentration in major economic sectors including healthcare, significant merger activity economy-wide, increased complexity of proposed transactions, and the commission’s commitment to taking action to protect the American public from harmful acquisitions and other anticompetitive business conduct,” said the FTC.

FTC resources pressed by healthcare mergers

In a 2024 budget request released last week, the FTC said it’s been pressed by mergers in the healthcare industry and others.

“Substantial merger activity and signs of market concentration and related competition concerns have dramatically increased the pressure on staffing resources in recent years,” the commission said.

“The merger workload – including resource-intensive and fast-paced merger litigation against major corporations – diverts resources from the Commission’s efforts to reinvigorate and refocus its commitment to identifying and challenging anticompetitive conduct in complex and increasingly pervasive technology markets for which the Bureau has designated significant resources.”

The $70.1 million increase would support the commission’s bureaus of competition and consumer protection. 

The FTC’s budget request “reflects continued growth in our investigative and litigation capacity to meet the increasing, broad-based anti-competitive challenges in healthcare and technology markets, and beyond,” the commission said, noting the funding will bolster its three regional offices’ investigational capacity.

The budget increase also proposes funding to add more specialized litigation and related personnel and manage rising operational expenses. 

Andrea Fox is senior editor of Healthcare IT News.
Email: [email protected]

Healthcare IT News is a HIMSS Media publication.

Benjamin Knisely and Holly Pavliscsak will offer more detail during their HIMSS23 session “Natural Language Processing to Identify Unmet Needs in Military Medicine.” It is scheduled for Tuesday, April 18, at 11:45 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. CT at the South Building, Level 1, in room S104.

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