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ADA urges Senate committee to support repealing McCarran-Ferguson antitrust exemption

June 11, 2019

By Jennifer Garvin

Washington — As Congress looks for ways to lower the cost of health care, the ADA is asking lawmakers to support legislation that would partially repeal the McCarran-Ferguson Act.
                
In a June 10 letter to the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition and Consumer Rights, the ADA asked Sens. Mike Lee, R-Utah, and Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., chair and ranking member, respectively, to consider S 350, the Competitive Health Insurance Reform Act, during the committee's June 12 hearing, Your Doctor/Pharmacist/Insurer Will See You Now: Competitive Implications of Vertical Consolidation in the Healthcare Industry.

If passed, the bill would amend the McCarran-Ferguson Act of 1945 to empower the Federal Trade Commission and the Justice Department to enforce the full suite of federal antitrust laws against health insurance companies engaged in anticompetitive conduct. It would not interfere with the states' abilities to maintain and enforce their own insurance regulations, antitrust statutes or consumer protection laws. The bipartisan bill, was introduced in the Senate by Sens. Steve Daines, R-Mont., and Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and in the House by Reps. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., and Paul Gosar, R-Ariz.

The Association has advocated for the repeal for more than 20 years.

"This partial repeal would apply only to the business of health insurance, including dental insurance," wrote ADA President Jeffrey M. Cole and Executive Director Kathleen T. O'Loughlin. "It would also help inject more competition into the insurance marketplace by authorizing greater federal antitrust enforcement in instances where state regulators fail, or are unable, 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."

For more information about the ADA's advocacy efforts on McCarran-Ferguson, visit ADA.org/McF.