An Amazon press release Thursday morning announced the tech giant will acquire One Medical – a chain of primary care clinics around the country – for $3.9 billion. Cold hard cash.
The foray into primary care services solidifies their foothold in healthcare – adding onto Amazon Care, their (exceptionally timed) 2019 telemedicine app launched months prior to the Covid-19 global pandemic. Now their digital reach, already unmatched in medicine, is paired with a bonafide brick-and-mortar apparatus, with clinics in sixteen US cities and another three on the way.
At $18 a year this is a steal for Amazon (AMZN) who are getting a 70% discount compared to the stocks (ONEM) February 2021 peak.
The press release announced current One Medical CEO Amir Dan Rubin (who made $200 billion last year LMAO) will stay on to lead the new frontier for Bezos’ baby. (Fr tho, imagine being so rich you’re buying out a guy who makes $200 mil a year.)
This is the first major acquisition by the shopping giant since founder Jeff Bezos stepped down and Andy Jassy took over as CEO.
As chair of the Senate’s judiciary antitrust committee, Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar (D) is demanding an FTC inquiry into the deal. She wrote to the head of the commission:
“Amazon has a history of engaging in business practices that raise serious anticompetitive concerns, including forcing small businesses on its site to buy its logistics services as a condition of preferred platform placement, using small businesses’ non-public data to compete against them, and, as was recently disclosed in new documents from the House Judiciary Committee’s Big Tech investigation, potential restricting advertising by competitors who could offer lower prices and better service,” said Klobuchar.
“Amazon still continues to buy up more and more companies. In fact, it has bought 118 companies in the last 25 years. This proposed transaction raises questions about potential anticompetitive effects related to the pharmacy services business Amazon already owns and about preferencing vendors who offer other services through Amazon.”
In addition to monopoly concern in the pharmaceutical arena, Klobuchar and others are equally concerned with the digital Goliath’s increased access to consumer data. Klobuchar said: “I also ask that the FTC consider the role of data, including as a potential barrier to entry, given that this proposed deal could result in the accumulation of highly sensitive personal health data in the hands of an already data-intensive company“
The American Economic Liberties Project rebuked the acquisition as well. Their Senior Policy Analyst Krysta Brown said “Allowing Amazon to control the health care data for another 700,000+ individuals is terrifying… It will also pose serious risks to patients whose sensitive data will be captured by a firm whose own Chief Information Security Office once described access to customer data as ‘a free for all.’ Amazon has no business being a major player in the health care space, and regulators should block this $4 billion deal to ensure it does not become one.”
Data acquisition is likely a key component to this acquisition for info-hungry Amazon. One Medical comes with its own custom built medical records system complete with 15 years of data on over 700,000 patients.
The FTC (or possibly the DOJ) will look into this merger, as is standard in acquisitions this size. But the FTC has already opened a broad antitrust investigation into Amazon’s practices including their purchase of the MGM movie studio. Not to mention their 2021 ruling against the Seattle Startup when it found they stole over $60 million in tips from their drivers.
Yet despite all the opposition, antitrust champions in congress are facing a roadblock in curbing monopoly expansion. Klobuchar’s landmark antitrust bill the American Innovation and Online Choice Act has the 60 votes needed to pass in the Senate, according to Republican co-sponsor Chuck Grassley. But critics say Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (NY) refuses to bring the bill to the floor.
Schumer, whose daughters work for big tech giants Facebook and Amazon (his daughter Jessica is a LOBBYIST for the Bezos Brainchild ffs), was the largest recipient of Big Tech donations according to FEC filings for April-June of this year. Between Cisco, Google, Apple and Microsoft Schumer raked in almost $330k. In addition to that fact, the Big 4 (Apple, Amazon, Google and Facebook) increased their lobbying spend from $34 million in 2020 to $55 million in 2021.
This has led some to believe Schumer is not being entirely… er, sincere when he says he wants Klobuchar’s bill to pass.
SCHUMER on the Big Tech bills:— Jake Sherman (@JakeSherman) July 19, 2022
"I am working with Sen. Klobuchar. I support these bills. I want to bring them to the floor. We have to see if we have 60 votes."
Dems have the votes, but Silicon Valley has the cash. The deadline to push this bill through before midterm drama swallows any chance at a substantial discussion is dwindling.