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Bipartisan legislation to amend McCarran-Ferguson Act introduced in House

March 01, 2019

By Jennifer Garvin

Washington — Bipartisan legislation was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives Feb. 28 to repeal the McCarran-Ferguson antitrust exemption for health insurance companies.

HR 1418, the Competitive Health Insurance Reform Act, was introduced in the 116th Congress by Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., and Dentist/Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., and included eight cosponsors. The Senate version of the bill, S 350, was introduced Feb. 6 by Sens. Steve Daines, R-Mont., and Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.

The Association, which has advocated for this repeal for more than 20 years, praised Congress for supporting the legislation.

"It is unthinkable that the health insurance industry has been permitted to avoid accountability for so long under the laws and standards that govern other aspects of American business," said ADA President Jeffrey M. Cole, in a statement. "Without repeal, dentists such as myself, my patients and the public won't know the extent to which they have been affected by the McCarran-Ferguson Act's negative impact on competition within the health insurance industry."

This bill is narrowly drawn to apply only to the business of health insurance, including dental insurance, the Association said. 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," according to the statement. Under the bill, those agencies will not interfere with the states' ability to enforce their own regulations, antitrust statutes and consumer protection laws.

In an action alert to ADA grassroots members, Dr. Brad Barnes, grassroots chair of the American Dental Political Action Committee, urged dentists to contact their legislators to support the bill.

"With your help we hope to get this important legislation passed," Dr. Barnes wrote.

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