U.S. SENATE – U.S. Senators Steve Daines (Mont.) and Patrick Leahy (Vt) today introduced legislation to ensure that health insurance companies are held accountable for pricing drugs. The bill, the Competitive Health Insurance Reform Act amends McCarran-Ferguson, which exempted insurance companies from federal antitrust laws.
“For far too long, health insurance companies have gotten away with taking advantage of consumers and charging them outrageous prices for their health care,” Daines said. “It’s time we look into these companies practices by demanding transparency in order to hold them accountable.”
“There’s simply no justification for exempting health insurance companies from laws prohibiting price fixing. Applying our federal antitrust laws to health insurance providers will let Americans feel more confident that the prices they are being charged are the product of a fair marketplace – not by the whims of a few dominant corporations. This bill will curtail the most egregious anticompetitive practices, like price fixing, bid rigging and market allocations, which hurt consumers and drive up health care costs,” Leahy said.
The bill holds health insurance companies accountable and ensures they are subject to the same laws which prohibit unfair trade practices such as price fixing, collusion, or market allocations.
Statements of Support:
“Thank you to our Senator, Steve Daines, for leading the way on expanded access to quality health care in our communities, and for making accountability, fairness and more pro-patient competition the immediate priorities in Washington, DC. Sen. Daines’ bill to eliminate the outdated and harmful anti-trust exemption for insurers is a tremendous step forward for patients and doctors in Montana and across our country, and I’m proud to support it.” – Dr. Ron Benner, Owner, Southern Montana Optometric Center
“As a recognized champion on improving quality and affordability in healthcare, Senator Daines is a natural sponsor for this bill. Transparency and competition are key underpinnings in driving value and this bill gives consumers one more resource in achieving that goal.” – Dr. Jane Gillette, Former President, Montana Dental Association
The Supreme Court ruled that the insurance business is “interstate commerce” in the 1944 case United States v. South-Eastern Underwriters Association. Accordingly, insurers are subject to Congressional oversight under the Commerce Clause, and federal antitrust laws under the Sherman Act.
In a bid to circumvent the decision, insurance companies lobbied Congress to create a special-interest loophole, exempting them from federal antitrust laws. The result was the McCarran-Ferguson Act of 1945.
For more information on the bill, click HERE.