Department of Justice Establishes Task Force on Counteracting Antitrust Practices in Health Care

On Thursday, May 9, 2024, the Department of Justice announced the creation of a new task force to lead antitrust enforcement in the healthcare industry. The body, called the Health Care Monopoly and Collusion Task Force (HCMC), is housed within the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division and is led by longtime DOJ antitrust prosecutor Katrina Rouse.

New task force, new website

According to a press release from the Department of Justice, HCMC will “consider common competition concerns” raised by patients, health care professionals, companies and entrepreneurs. Highlighted areas include “payer and provider consolidation, serial acquisitions, workforce and quality of care, medical billing, health IT services, and (and) access to and misuse of health care data.” The task force will include civil and criminal prosecutors, as well as economists, industry experts and other policy advisers.

It also announced the creation of a new website that will allow the public to share information on competition issues in the healthcare industry.

Practical impact on law enforcement?

It is too early to tell whether the new HCMC commission will have any measurable impact on antitrust enforcement in the health care industry. Such task forces are nothing new for the Justice Department, as various types of task forces and similar initiatives have existed for years in a variety of areas, from gun crime to elder care to corporate crime to drug interdiction.

However, the focus on the health care industry is not surprising because it has long been the industry most targeted by the Justice Department in both criminal and civil cases. At a minimum, the new HCMC commission may signal an increased focus on healthcare in the antitrust area and increased resources to conduct such investigations.