On June 23, the Nevada Attorney General’s office announced that it had fined UnitedHealth $1 million for breaching the terms of an antitrust Consent Decree that UnitedHealth had agreed to in 2008 to close its acquisition of Sierra Health, a rival health insurer. The Consent Decree had resolved an investigation of the deal by both the DOJ Antitrust Division and the Nevada Attorney General, each of which contended that the merger would have anticompetitive effects in certain Nevada insurance markets. To resolve the DOJ/Nevada AG concerns, UnitedHealth agreed to certain divestitures, made certain contributions to various Nevada health care organizations, and agreed not to proceed with a planned acquisition of another smaller rival, Fiserv Nevada, both at that time or in the future.
Notwithstanding the terms of the Consent Decree, the Nevada Attorney General’s office determined that UnitedHealth had subsequently acquired all but one of Fiserv’s active customers, office space and equipment through a series of indirect assignments. As a result of these transactions, Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto stated that “Fiserv Nevada ceased to do business, as demonstrated by Fiserv Nevada surrendering its license to perform third party administration of insurance in the state of Nevada,” which Attorney General Masto contended constituted a clear violation of the Consent Decree. UnitedHealth disputed the State’s contentions, but agreed to pay the fine to resolve the dispute, issuing a statement indicating that “While we disagree with the allegations because UnitedHealth did not acquire an interest in, or engage in a joint venture with Fiserv Nevada, we felt it was important to reach a mutual agreement on this issue.” The remaining terms of the Consent Decree remain in effect.