DeFazio, Slaughter Continue their Fight Against the Anti-Competitive Health Insurance Industry
Washington, DC—Reps. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) and Louise Slaughter (D-NY) today, reintroduced the Health Insurance Industry Fair Competition Act, H.R. 2462, which repeals the antiquated exemption that allows the health insurance industry to operate beyond the reach of federal antitrust laws.
“It is preposterous that this anti-free market exemption is still on the books,” DeFazio said. “With this exemption, health insurance companies can, and do, collude to drive up prices, limit competition, conspire to underpay doctors and hospitals, and price gouge consumers. I continue to hear from my constituents about high insurance premiums. Our bill would protect consumers and make sure the health insurance industry plays by the same rules as virtually every other industry.”
“We worked very hard when writing the Affordable Care Act to contain the out-of-control growth of healthcare costs,” said Congresswoman Slaughter. “We have been making progress on that front, slowing the growth in healthcare costs to its lowest rate in 50 years. One reason we haven’t been able to do more is that health insurance companies are exempt from anti-trust regulation, meaning that they can collude to drive up prices and limit competition. This is the primary reason so many of my constituents are still seeing their rates go up, sometimes at exorbitant speeds. These Fortune 500 corporations and their well-paid CEO’s don’t need or deserve special treatment. There is no reason the health insurance industry should be exempt from the law."
The McCarran-Ferguson Act, passed in 1945, exempts the business of insurance from the federal antitrust laws to limit competition. The only other industry exempt from antitrust laws is Major League Baseball. If there ever was, there is no longer any justification to exempt the insurance industry from federal government oversight.
The Health Insurance Industry Fair Competition Act would repeal the exemption and give the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission the authority to apply the antitrust laws to anticompetitive behavior by insurance companies. This Act would not affect the ability of each state to regulate the business of insurance. Similar legislation passed the House of Representatives in 2010 with overwhelming bipartisan support in a vote of 406-19.