Almost like clockwork, efforts to repeal the McCarran-Ferguson limited antitrust exemption are beginning to pick up steam again in Washington. We have recently learned that next week, Rep. Paul Gosar, (R-AZ), intends to introduce an amendment to pending legislation which would repeal the limited antitrust exemption of the McCarran-Ferguson Act and give the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission the authority to enforce federal antitrust laws and regulations for insurers.
The House of Representatives plans to combine Tennessee Rep. Phil Roe’s (R-TN) bill to repeal the Medicare Independent Payment Advisory Board and separate legislation sponsored by Rep. Phil Gingrey, (R-GA), which would cap noneconomic malpractice awards when a patient is injured. It is during the floor debate over these bills that Rep. Gosar plans introduce his legislation, H.R. 1150, the Competitive Health Insurance Reform Act, as an amendment.
Similar to efforts to repeal the antitrust exemption during the healthcare reform debate in the 111th Congress, H.R. 1150 would specifically target health and medical malpractice insurance, but contains broad language that would include life, disability, and all lines of property/casualty insurance.
As we know, the McCarran-Ferguson Act, approved by Congress in 1945, entrusts states with the authority and responsibility for the regulation of the business of insurance. The McCarran-Ferguson Act does not include a blanket exemption from antitrust laws, but provides a targeted exemption for certain limited insurance activities. Eliminating the antitrust exemption would limit insurers' ability to exchange critical data, endangering market participation by smaller insurers, and making it more difficult for carriers to enter new markets and new lines of business. Perversely, if McCarran-Ferguson were repealed in the name of protecting consumers from monopoly, those very consumers would suffer because of reduced competition, reduced availability in the marketplace, and increased costs.
NAMIC is working to thwart Rep. Gosar’s efforts and to correct the broad language that would sweep in all property/casualty insurance and to drop medical malpractice insurance as well. We are also working with the House leadership to avoid a fight on the House floor.
We will continue to work through all available channels to prevent this legislation from gaining traction. Should repeal legislation reach the House floor, we will be sending an action alert and asking you to contact your representative and tell them to vote no on a repeal of McCarran-Ferguson.
Contact: Jimi Grande
Senior Vice President, Federal and Political Affairs
Posted: Thursday, March 15, 2012 10:09:53 AM. Modified: Thursday, March 22, 2012 1:59:48 PM.
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