Christopher Jacobs of the Federalist highlights an important admission from the Biden Justice Department.

A recent Wall Street Journal story highlighting a new antitrust investigation against the nation’s largest health insurer represents a variation on a long-standing theme. In this instance, as in prior occurrences, the Justice Department and federal officials are trying to undo the harmful effects of a law — Obamacare — that has led industry giants throughout the health sector to consolidate.

Recall that, four election cycles ago, then-candidate Obama promised in 2008 that his health care plan would lower premiums by an average of $2,500 per family. That premiums continue to rise unabated shows the failure of Obamacare by Obama’s own standards — and the anti-competitive behavior the law has engendered explains why.

According to the Journal, the Justice Department’s antitrust division is looking at the nexus between UnitedHealthcare’s insurance business and its Optum subsidiary, which owns numerous physician practices:

“The new Justice Department inquiry … is partly examining Optum’s acquisitions of doctor groups and how the ownership of physician and health plan units affects competition. … Investigators have asked whether UnitedHealthcare favored Optum-owned groups in its contracting practices, potentially squeezing rival physicians out of certain types of attractive payment arrangements.” …

… On the last count, the Justice Department is pursuing an issue highlighted by Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., last November, when she and Sen. Mike Braun, R-Ind., wrote to the Department of Health and Human Services’ inspector general requesting an investigation examining, among other things, “the extent to which vertical integration allows insurers to evade, or use profit-shifting approaches, to undermine [medical loss ratio] requirements.”

All of these issues are of the same piece. Warren and Braun wrote back in November about the effect of UnitedHealth’s insurance business and Optum’s physician practices, but they also discussed integration between pharmacies and pharmaceutical benefit managers (PBMs), who manage drug claims for insurance companies.

Likewise, just as antitrust investigators are examining UnitedHealth’s acquisition of physician practices, so too have hospitals continued to gobble each other up via acquisition over the past decade-plus.