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House Judiciary Committee passes Competitive Health Insurance Reform Act

February 28, 2017

By Jennifer Garvin

Washington — The House Judiciary Committee on Feb. 28 unanimously passed H.R. 372, the Competitive Health Insurance Reform Act of 2017.

The Association strongly supports H.R. 372, which was introduced Jan. 10 by Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., a dentist and ADA member. The bill would authorize the Federal Trade Commission and the Justice Department to "enforce the federal antitrust laws against health insurance companies engaged in anticompetitive conduct."

"Repealing the McCarran-Ferguson antitrust exemption for the business of health insurance will assist in Congress's larger goal of restoring competition to the health care industry and reversing the trend of rising payments and market consolidation," said Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., chair, House Judiciary Committee, and Tom Marino, R-Pa., chair, Regulatory Reform, Commercial and Antitrust Law Subcommittee, in a statement.

On Feb. 16, the Association submitted written testimony to a House subcommittee hearing on Regulatory Reform, Commercial and Antitrust Law, asking for support of the bill. That was followed by the Organized Dentistry Coalition's Feb. 27 letter to House Judiciary Chair Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., and ranking member John Conyers, D-Mich., the Organized Dentistry Coalition urging the committee to cosponsor the legislation.

"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 in its testimony. "An important step toward achieving these objectives is eliminating the outdated federal antitrust exemption that grants health insurers special status, and permits them to ignore the competitive rules that apply to every other U.S. business."

"The bill is narrowly drawn to apply only to the business of health insurance, including dental insurance, and would not affect the business of life insurance, property or casualty insurance, and many similar insurance areas," the coalition wrote. "Passage of H.R. 372 would help interject more competition into the insurance marketplace by authorizing greater federal antitrust enforcement in instances where state regulators fail to act. 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."

During his testimony Rep. Gosar said, "Imagine what could exist when we put the patient first and demand that health insurance companies compete for their business. This market should be patient-centric, provide a variety of affordable, quality options and empower patient involvement and accountability."

To keep track of all the Association's insurance reform activities, visit ADA.org/McF.