US: House passes bill repealing antitrust exemption for health insurers

The House easily passed bills promoting association health plans and repealing the health insurance industry’s exemption to the antitrust regulation, both considered part of “phase three” of the GOP’s three-part ACA repeal and replacement effort.

The Small Business Fairness Act (HR 1101), sponsored by Reps. Sam Johnson and Rep. Tim Walberg, would let businesses band together to create either fully insured or self-insured association health plans that could be sold across state lines.

US Congressman Paul A. Gosar released the following statement after the House voted 416-7 in favor of legislation he sponsored H.R. 372, the Competitive Health Insurance Reform Act of 2017:

“Today, an overwhelming bipartisan majority in the House joined me in taking a historic step to begin rebuilding America’s healthcare market. As a dentist for over 25 years, I know first-hand that restoring the application of federal antitrust laws to the business of health insurance is the key to unlocking greater competition in the marketplace. Making health insurance companies compete in a free-market will result in huge benefits for hospitals, doctors and most importantly, patients. History has always shown us that when we put the patient first and demand that health insurance companies compete for their business, premiums go down while quality goes up. I’m proud to have led this effort in the House and call on Senate leaders to take up this bipartisan legislation in a timely matter.”

“There are very few antitrust exemptions in this country, and for good reason. For decades, insurance companies have lived under a different set of rules than everyone else, and today the House has voted to bring health insurers back under the umbrella of our federal antitrust laws,” said Rep. Austin Scott (GA-08). “While this is not an end-all be-all to fixing our broken health care system, I strongly believe this piece of legislation is a big step forward in untangling the mess our health insurance marketplace has become and fulfilling our promise to create a marketplace that works for all Americans. ”

“The House today took an important step in ensuring robust competition among health insurance plans,” said American Dental Association President Gary Roberts. “Free market competition leads to lower costs, greater innovation and variety in the insurance marketplace. I have long appreciated Paul Gosar for his steadfast commitment to patient advocacy, and I thank him for his work on reforming the McCarran-Ferguson Act. Further, I want to thank every one of the 416 members of Congress who voted for H.R. 372 today.”

Full Content: Inside Health Policy

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