Gibbons says health buyout needs closer look

Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons has upped his efforts to attract additional regulatory scrutiny to UnitedHealth Group’s $2.6 billion acquisition of Sierra Health Services.

Gibbons sent a letter Friday to the U.S. Department of Justice and the consumer-protection unit of the Federal Trade Commission, asking both agencies to carefully consider how the buyout would affect Nevada’s insurance markets.

"I remain deeply concerned about the potential monopoly this merger could create, particularly for Medicare recipients and in the HMO market," Gibbons’ letter said.

Gibbons noted in the letter that he’s asked Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto to "continue with a vigorous investigation" into the Sierra Health sale. He urged the Justice Department to consider the deal’s anticompetitive implications, and said he looked forward to the Federal Trade Commission’s participation in the review process.

"As officials charged with protecting the public, we need to ensure that health-care access in Nevada is not adversely impacted by any merger of insurance companies that may lessen competition," the letter said.

Gibbons wasn’t available Wednesday afternoon for further comment.

The Department of Justice has been examining the deal since the spring, when Minnesota-based UnitedHealth announced it wanted to acquire Las Vegas-based Sierra Health, the city’s largest managed-care insurer.

Tyler Mason, a spokesman for UnitedHealth, said he wasn’t sure if the Federal Trade Commission had already been looking into the buyout, but he said UnitedHealth would accommodate any new requests for details.

"I think it’s within the governor’s purview (to contact federal officials), and I think it’s consistent with his ongoing interest in this merger," Mason said. "We’ve all conducted ourselves in a transparent manner related to the merger, and we’ll continue to work with the governor and any additional parties he thinks we need to exchange information with."

Jenny Des Vaux Oakes, a spokeswoman for Sierra Health, said her company will also cooperate with any additional queries into the sale.

"We appreciate the governor’s continued interest in this issue, and we’re certain at the federal level that the matter will be thoroughly reviewed," Des Vaux Oakes said. "All input received will be carefully considered."

The deal would combine the state’s No. 1 and No. 3 insurers, giving them a combined customer base in Nevada of more than 800,000 enrollees. WellPoint Health Networks, the No. 2 insurer, has about 270,000 members in the Silver State.

The Justice Department issued a second request for information on May 16, asking for more details from Sierra Health and UnitedHealth about the deal and its effects on the market. But health-care analysts have said second requests from the department are common in the health-insurance realm, and don’t necessarily signal that federal antitrust regulators have substantial reservations about a merger.

The American Medical Association, the Service Employees International Union and the Nevada State Medical Association are among groups that have come out against the deal, saying it would give UnitedHealth, a major insurer with more than 70 million customers nationwide, nearly 100 percent of the state’s Medicare segment and 95 percent of the state’s fully insured HMO market.

Executives of Sierra Health and UnitedHealth have responded that those figures don’t consider competition in the broader market, which includes a large number of self-insured corporations, as well as PPO and point-of-service plans. The combined entity would have 28 percent of the market in commercial insurance for employers in Nevada and 18.9 percent of the statewide market in insurance for employers with two to 50 workers, executives have said.

Mason said he didn’t expect Gibbons’ outreach to federal regulators to substantially affect the buyout’s completion.

"We’re still reasonably confident that the deal should close by the end of the year," he said. "The entities (Gibbons is) talking to have been entities everyone has been communicating with for multiple months."

Insurance commissioners in Nevada, California and Arizona have approved the deal.

Nevada Insurance Commissioner Alice Molasky-Arman gave the buyout the nod on Aug. 27 after several hearings around the state.

Molasky-Arman placed several conditions on her approval, including prohibiting the companies from passing along merger costs to consumers in the form of higher premiums and slashed benefits, and requiring UnitedHealth to develop specific measures to reduce the number of uninsured in Nevada.

A Facebook-branded space inside of Macy’s at the Fashion Show shopping center
A Facebook-branded space inside of Macy’s at the Fashion Show shopping center will showcase 13 small businesses in November and December and seven in January. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
T-Mobile uses ticketing data to plan for event
T-Mobile Executive Director of Arena Operations explains how ticket sales data and demographics help plan staffing, vendors, parking and operations for an event.
Costco opens its doors in southwest Henderson
Costco has opened its fifth Las Vegas-area location near the intersection of St. Rose Parkway and Amigo Street. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas strip mall and office park
The Krausz Cos. and WG Group bought a strip mall and an office park in Las Vegas for nearly $80 million total. They acquired a portion of Tropicana Beltway Center in the southwest valley for $59 million. They also acquired the Westbay office complex in the Las Vegas Medical District. The buyers are former owners of The Gramercy, a once-mothballed mixed-use project in the Las Vegas suburbs. They sold The Gramercy in phases for more than $100 million.
Mario Barth talks about the growth of the tattoo industry
Celebrity tattoo artist and business owner Mario Barth talks about the growth of the tattoo industry at The World of Tattoo industry trade show at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas
$7.5M Las Vegas pot dispensary opens near Las Vegas Strip
Planet 13, which bills itself as one of the largest dispensaries in the world, opened to the public Thursday. It has entertainment including an interactive floor and floating orbs. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Caesars CEO to step down next year
Caesars Entertainment Corp. CEO Mark Frissora will leave the casino company in February. Frissora has been CEO since July 2015. He was named CEO right after Caesars' operating company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Caesars Entertainment emerged from bankruptcy protection in October 2017 Before Caesars, Frissora spent seven years as chairman and CEO of Naples, Fla.,-based Hertz He led the consolidation of the rental-car industry through Hertz‘s acquisition of the Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group.
Planet 13 in Las Vegas adds twist to marijuana dispensary look
Planet 13, which bills itself as one of the largest dispensaries in the world, opened to the public Thursday. The dispensary is located near the intersection of Desert Inn Road and Sammy Davis Jr. Drive, near Trump International, in Las Vegas. Planet 13 has plans in the future for a coffee shop, a tasting room for marijuana-infused beer and wine, a lounge for consuming marijuana on site if that is legalized and space for food.
Caesars Entertainment opening 2 resorts in Dubai
Cove Beach will open on Meraas’ Bluewaters Island in Dubai in November and Caesars Palace Bluewaters Dubai and The Residences at Caesars Palace Bluewaters Dubai will open in December. (Caesars Entertainment)
Bellagio, MGM Resorts International’s luxury hotel turns 20
The more than 3,000-room Bellagio hotel is situated on the site of the former Dunes Hotel. The Dunes was imploded in 1993, and construction of the Bellagio started in 1996. It cost $1.6 billion to build, making it the most expensive hotel in the world at the time. The Bellagio was former Wynn Resorts Ltd. Chairman and CEO Steve Wynn’s second major casino on the Strip after The Mirage. MGM Resorts International acquired the property from Steve Wynn in 2000. (Tara Mack/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Facial recognition software at G2E – Todd Prince
Shing Tao, CEO of Las Vegas-based Remark Holdings, talks about his facial recognition product. (Todd Prince/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Former NBA player, Shaquille O'Neal, speaks about his new Las Vegas chicken restaurant
Former NBA player, Shaquille O'Neal, speaks about his new Las Vegas chicken restaurant. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Bobby Baldwin to leave MGM
MGM Resorts International executive and professional poker player Bobby Baldwin is set to leave MGM.
Caesars has new armed emergency response teams
Caesars Entertainment Corp. has created armed emergency response teams. They are composed of former military and law enforcement officials. "These teams provide valuable additional security capabilities,” Caesars spokeswoman Jennifer Forkish said. Caesars is hiring Security Saturation Team supervisors, managers and officers, according to LinkedIn. The company did not say how many people it plans to hire for the units. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas, airlines prepare for CES
CES in January is expected to attract more than 180,000 attendees. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
AGS partners with Vegas Golden Knights
AGS is the nation’s second-largest manufacturer of Class II slot machines used primarily in tribal jurisdictions. It announced a marketing partnership with the Vegas Golden Knights NHL team. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Lehman Brothers bet big on Las Vegas
Lehman Brothers collapsed 10 years ago, helping send the country into the Great Recession.
Fremont9 opens downtown
Fremont9 apartment complex has opened in downtown Las Vegas. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Ross & Snow launches in Las Vegas
Luxury shoe brand Ross & Snow has opened in Las Vegas, featuring "functional luxury" with premium shearling footwear. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Remote Identification and Drones
DJI vice president of policy and public affairs discusses using remote identification on drones. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Drones and public safety in Nevada
Two representatives in the drone industry discuss UAV's impact on public safety. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Frontier Airlines to launch flights from Las Vegas to Mexico
Frontier, a Denver-based ultra-low-cost carrier, will become the first airline in more than a decade to offer international service to Canada and Mexico from Las Vegas when flights to Cancun and Los Cabos begin Dec. 15. (Rick Velotta/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
MGM Resorts International CEO Jim Murren addresses Oct. 1 lawsuits
MGM Resorts International Chairman and CEO Jim Murren addresses criticism his company has received for filing a lawsuit against the survivors of the Oct. 1 shooting. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
MGM Resorts International opens the doors on MGM Springfield
Massachusetts’ first hotel-casino opens in downtown Springfield. The $960 million MGM Springfield has 252 rooms and 125,000-square-feet of casino. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
MGM Resorts International prepares to open MGM Springfield
Las Vegas-based MGM Resorts International gave news media and invited guests a preview of the $960 million MGM Springfield casino in Massachusetts. The commonwealth's first resort casino will open Friday, Aug. 24. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
A Walk Through Circus Circus
It only takes a short walk through Circus Circus to realize it attracts a demographic like no other casino on the Strip: families with young children. (Todd Prince/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Morphy Auctions, a vintage slot machines seller, wants gaming license
Vice president Don Grimmer talks about Morphy Auctions at the company's warehouse located at 4520 Arville Street in Las Vegas on Thursday, Aug. 16, 2018. (Rick Velotta/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nevada's venture capital money doesn't stay in state
Zach Miles, associate vice president for economic development for UNLV, said there’s venture money in Southern Nevada, “but trying to find the right groups to tap into for that money is different.” According to a 2017 report from the Kauffman Foundation, Las Vegas ranked number 34 out of 40 metropolitan areas for growth entrepreneurship, a metric of how much startups grow. With a lack of growing startups in Las Vegas, investment money is being sent outside of state borders. The southwest region of the U.S. received $386 million in funding in the second quarter, with about $25.2 million in Nevada. The San Francisco area alone received about $5.6 billion. (source: CB Insights)
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like