ICYMI: Congressman Austin Scott Condemns Antitrust Exemptions for Insurers
WASHINGTON – U.S. Congressman Austin Scott (GA-08) today spoke on the House Floor in support of H.R. 372, the Competitive Health Insurance Reform Act of 2017, which would reapply federal antitrust laws to certain health insurers to protect competition and consumers.
“For decades, special exemptions shielding insurers from federal anti-trust laws have eroded confidence and competition across the health care industry. There are very few antitrust exemptions in our country, and for good reason,” said Rep. Austin Scott. “Removing this antitrust exemption for health insurers will result in more options for consumers, increased competition between providers, and greater certainty for insurers when it comes to hammering out policies that work for consumers across the spectrum.”
Rep. Austin Scott continued: “I strongly believe this piece of legislation lays a firm foundation in our promise to fix our badly broken health care system.”
In 1945, Congress passed the McCarran-Ferguson Act, which exempted the “business of insurance” from compliance with federal antitrust laws. In 2010, provisions to reapply federal antitrust laws to the industry passed the House by a vote of 406-19, but were not included in the Affordable Care Act. The Competitive Health Insurance Reform Act of 2017 would bring health care insurers back under the federal antitrust laws, increasing competition and providing better coverage and savings for consumers in the health insurance marketplace.
Below are a few excerpts from Rep. Scott’s remarks:
“This is a good bill. Let me tell you how I know it is a good bill. Because a few years ago, both Nancy Pelosi and Mike Pence voted for it.
“On February 24, 2010, the Health Insurance Industry Fair Competition Act passed the House with a vote of 406 to 19. This was only one month prior to the Affordable Care Act being signed into law, and yet in the back rooms where they put the Affordable Care Act together they didn't include the provision.
“While insurance companies have the power to negotiate, pharmacies, physicians, and hospitals are left without a seat at the table.
“The legislation currently before the House would insert much-needed competition into the market by eliminating the exemption, leveling the playing field and giving consumers and providers more leverage and better options.
“By definition, health care and health insurance are not the same thing, but when one insurance company controls such significant forces of the cash flow of all the providers in a region, no provider can stay in business without a contract for that carrier.
“While this is not an end-all be-all, it is a big step forward in untangling the mess our health insurance marketplace has become.”