When a subsidiary of the giant UnitedHealth Group got hit by a cyberattack recently, a big chunk of the country’s doctors, pharmacists, hospitals and therapists just stopped getting paid. 

It’s been a huge disruption, with some providers wondering if they can keep their doors open.

But thanks to their huge size and reach, the situation may have had a silver lining — for United.

Which seems like a big problem, and got us wondering: What can we maybe do about it?

The answer turns out to be: Maybe more than we think, via antitrust enforcers at the Federal Trade Commission and the U.S. Department of Justice.

Strap in for a wild ride — and then maybe check out FTC Chair Lina Khan’s talk with Jon Stewart on The Daily Show. We include some short excerpts, but the whole thing is worth a watch.

Thanks to reporters Brittany Trang (STAT News) and Maureen Tkacik (The American Prospect) for guiding us through their reporting.

And to the novelist/journalist/activist Cory Doctorow, who has been writing about antitrust enforcement for years. Here are a couple of his columns about Lina Khan and what she and other antitrust enforcers are up to.

If you want a deeper dive on the new antitrust movement: It’s summed up in a terrific (and short) book by Tim Wu, a Columbia University law professor and former White House adviser:  The Curse of Bigness: Antitrust in the New Gilded Age

And you may be able to get it for free! If your local library uses a system called Hoopla, you can borrow it as either an audiobook or an ebook.

Super-fun tangent: Cory Doctorow and Tim Wu went to elementary school together — and apparently played a lot of Dungeons and Dragons — when they were kids in Toronto

Here’s a transcript of this episode

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