Senate Bill Aims to Increase Transparency and Health Care Options Through Marketplace Competition

CHICAGO — The American Dental Association (ADA) is pleased that Sen. Steve Daines (R-Montana) and Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont), introduced S. 350, the “Competitive Health Insurance Reform Act.” This bipartisan legislation would help encourage more competition in the health insurance marketplace by providing that the full range of federal antitrust law applies to the health insurance industry. 

This legislation, if enacted, will amend a section of the McCarran-Ferguson Act of 1945, which exempted the insurance industry from important provisions of the Sherman Act and the Clayton Act – acts that have the purpose of ensuring fair competition. If passed, this legislation will help level the playing field between health insurers, providers, and consumers. It may also help to make health insurance more affordable for all Americans.  

“If health insurance companies had to follow all of the antitrust laws when setting rates and designing coverage, it would increase competition among the companies that insure both individual customers and purchasers of large group policies,” said Jeffrey M. Cole, D.D.S., ADA president. 

This bill is narrowly drawn to apply only to the business of health insurance, including dental insurance. The ADA hopes its effect will be to remove the apparent hesitancy of the Federal Trade Commission and the Justice Department to enforce the federal antitrust laws against health insurance companies engaged in anticompetitive conduct. Under the bill, those agencies will not interfere with the states’ ability to enforce their own regulations, antitrust statutes and consumer protection laws. The U.S. House of Representatives is expected to introduce a companion bill soon.

The ADA applauds this bipartisan effort of Congress to deal with this important issue of health care insurance reform. 

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