By Jennifer Garvin, ADA
Washington — The Association is requesting that Congress include provisions of H.R. 372 — a bill that would amend the McCarran-Ferguson Act of 1945 — in future legislation affecting the Affordable Care Act.
In a letter to U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan and Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, ADA President Gary L. Roberts and Executive Director Kathleen T. O’Loughlin urged legislators to include the bill, which would authorize the Federal Trade Commission and Justice Department to enforce federal antitrust laws against health insurance companies engaged in anticompetitive conduct.
Drs. Roberts and O’Loughlin noted that passage of the bill would help “interject more competition” into the insurance marketplace.
“When competition is not robust, consumers are more likely to face higher prices and less likely to benefit from innovation and variety in the marketplace,” they wrote.
H.R. 372, which was introduced Jan. 10 by Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., “would not interfere with the states’ ability to maintain and enforce their own insurance regulations, antitrust statutes, and consumer protection laws. Because states vary in their enforcement efforts, the impact of repeal on health insurance companies would differ from state to state. This is no different from the situation faced by other businesses,” wrote Drs. Roberts and O’Loughlin.
The ADA has long contended the ability to collude on payments gives health insurance companies an unfair competitive advantage.
In April 2016, the Association submitted written testimony to the Senate Judiciary subcommittee on antitrust, competition policy and consumer rights, urging committee members to reexamine the antitrust exemption enjoyed by health insurance companies as a result of the 1945 McCarran-Ferguson law.
“The current debate regarding health care reform requires serious consideration of any and all means to introduce competition and make health insurance affordable for all Americans,” wrote the Association.
“An important step toward achieving these objectives is eliminating the outdated antitrust exemption that grants health insurers special status, and permits them to ignore the competitive rules that apply to every other U.S. business.”
For information on all ADA advocacy activities, visit ADA.org/advocacy.