WASHINGTON (Jan. 7, 2010) - The National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies (NAMIC) today called on members of Congress to reject language that would repeal the limited antitrust exemption created by the McCarran-Ferguson Act from inclusion in the final healthcare reform bill.
“This is not the first time we have fought against misguided efforts to repeal the limited antitrust exemption in the McCarran-Ferguson Act,” said Marliss McManus, senior federal affairs director for NAMIC. “Today, as in 2007, proponents of a repeal demonstrate a lack of understanding about McCarran and the nature of insurance.”
Language repealing the limited antitrust exemption was included in the version of the bill passed by the House, but was left out of the Senate’s healthcare reform legislation. Under the House bill, the limited exemption would be repealed for health and medical liability insurers. Several key members of the House have indicated that they will be pushing to have the repeal included in the final version of the bill.
“If enacted, a repeal will do more harm than good,” said McManus. “We would simply ask those members with concerns about the McCarran-Ferguson provision to look carefully at what it does and what it doesn’t do. Collusion among insurers, as with any other industry, is already illegal.”
The limited antitrust exemption was established in the McCarran-Ferguson Act to provide greater access to data for insurance companies so that they could more accurately determine the risks involved and set their prices accordingly. It also allows for use of a common form by insurers, so that consumers can compare offers from different companies on an ‘apples to apples’ basis.
“Seeking to repeal the limited exemption for medial liability insurers is especially curious, given that it runs counter to the goals expressed by healthcare reform supporters,” noted McManus.
“If their goal is to increase access to health care, why would you want to make finding liability coverage more difficult, not to mention more expensive, for those providing that care?” McManus said. “Even the best healthcare providers need liability coverage. Making it harder and more expensive for them to obtain that coverage won’t improve care or make it more affordable, in fact it could have the opposite effect.”
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