The U.S. Home of Representatives on Monday handed laws that may permit federal antitrust enforcement towards insurers.
Comparable variations of the invoice have been thought-about and handed within the Home over the past decade, although none have turn out to be legislation. Odds seem slim this 12 months as properly. The invoice would fall below the purview of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which can quickly be preoccupied with a blockbuster Supreme Court docket affirmation battle.
The Aggressive Well being Insurance coverage Reform Act would amend the 1945 McCarran-Ferguson Act, which gave insurers federal immunity from antitrust enforcement and delegated major authority to control consolidation within the insurance coverage trade.
The invoice’s passage comes as insurers have been perceived to have profited from decreased healthcare utilization in the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, although some insurers have benefited greater than others. The Home Power & Commerce Committee launched an investigation into insurers’ insurance policies and income, and an trade insider accustomed to lobbying efforts mentioned there may be some anti-insurer sentiment on the Hill.
The 2016 GOP platform additionally proposed putting off insurers’ federal antitrust enforcement immunity.
A bipartisan Senate companion invoice has been launched, however Senate aides and insurance coverage trade insiders mentioned the laws is unlikely to go as a standalone invoice. Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) is locked in a aggressive re-election race and can quickly concentrate on the Supreme Court docket affirmation battle. A current Quinnipiac College ballot confirmed Graham tied for help together with his Democratic opponent amongst probably voters.
Insurers staunchly oppose the laws.
“Repeal of McCarran-Ferguson typically, or the antitrust exemption specifically, would do nothing to extend competitors in medical health insurance markets; isn’t obligatory to permit gross sales throughout state traces; and would hurt tens of millions of Individuals by lowering competitors, selection, and innovation,” America’s Well being Insurance coverage Plans Senior Vice President Kristine Develop mentioned.
Even when the invoice is unlikely to advance within the Senate, there’s an opportunity it might be slipped into a bigger invoice transferring this 12 months. Congress has to go a authorities funding package deal in September to keep away from a shutdown, and is predicted to set one other Dec. 11 deadline. The invoice was not included in Home Democrats’ most up-to-date authorities funding laws.