01.13.21

Daines, Leahy, Gosar, DeFazio Bipartisan Bill Promoting Affordable Health Insurance Signed Into Law

Bill prevents health insurance companies from price fixing, collusion

U.S. CONGRESS — U.S. Senators Steve Daines (Mont.) and Patrick Leahy (Vt.) and Congressmen Paul Gosar (Ariz.) and Peter DeFazio (Ore.) announced that their bipartisan bill promoting access to affordable health care by increasing transparency and enhancing consumer protections in the health insurance industry has been signed into law by the President. The “Competitive Health Insurance Reform Act” will ensure that health insurance issuers are subject to the same federal antitrust laws prohibiting unfair trade practices, such as price fixing and collusion, as virtually every other industry in our economy. 

“Our bipartisan bill will now ensure greater transparency and oversight in the health insurance industry and help make health insurance more affordable for Montanans and Americans across the country. I’m glad the President has signed this commonsense bill into law,” Daines said.   

“I am very proud that our longstanding, bipartisan bill to promote competition and protect consumers in the health insurance industry has been signed into law by President Trump. While ordinary Americans are suffering through an unprecedented, deadly pandemic, multi-billion dollar health insurance companies are boasting record-high profits. It makes little sense that these powerful actors should also benefit from an antiquated exemption in the law shielding them from all scrutiny and oversight by our federal antitrust authorities. By eliminating this special-interest exemption, our commonsense legislation will help ensure that Americans struggling through this pandemic have access to affordable health insurance in a free and fair marketplace,” Leahy said.   

“I am proud to work with President Trump, Senator Daines, and House colleagues to close this special-interest loophole and thank President Trump for signing the Competitive Health Insurance Reform Act into law. As a healthcare provider for more than two decades I understand the importance of a competitive health insurance market, which should be patient-centric and should provide a variety of affordable and quality options, all fostered by competition. Patients, doctors, and hospitals all benefit when health insurers compete to provide a variety of quality coverage options. This effort will restore the application of federal antitrust laws to the health insurance industry and I thank President Trump for his signature and continued leadership,” said Congressman Paul Gosar. 

“Today, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, accessible and affordable medical care is more important than ever —yet insurance companies still have free rein to price-gouge consumers and reap massive profits on the backs of seniors, working families, and everyday Americans,” said DeFazio. “As long as this exemption is still on the books, health insurance companies legally can collude to drive up prices, limit competition, conspire to underpay doctors and hospitals, and overcharge consumers. I’m proud that this bipartisan legislation will now be law to protect consumers and make sure the health insurance industry plays by the same rules as virtually every other industry in America.” 

The bipartisan bill amends the McCarran-Ferguson Act to restore the application of federal antitrust laws to the health insurance industry, but does not interfere with or impact the authority of state authorities to regulate health insurance provided under that Act. This bill will help address instances of artificially higher premiums, unfair insurance restrictions, and harmful policy exclusions. 

The bipartisan legislation has wide stakeholder support as well. 

Statements of Support: 

“This promises to finally bring consumers a healthy dose of competition for their essential health insurance coverage needs. Health insurers can, and should, follow the basic free-market rules of competition that operate throughout the rest of the economy to give consumers better and more affordable choices. We especially want to congratulate Congressman Defazio, Congressman Gosar, Senator Daines, and Senator Leahy for their leadership in accomplishing this important win for competition and consumers.” – George Slover, Senior Policy Counsel, Consumer Reports 

“The American Dental Association (ADA) is very appreciative that Congress worked in a bipartisan manner to pass this common sense piece of legislation.  We are hopeful that by removing the anti-trust exemption that the dental insurance industry has enjoyed for decades, this will begin to bring transparency for both consumers and providers as well as innovation and competition to the marketplace. We would also like to thank  Representative DeFazio, Representative Gosar, Senator Daines, and Senator Leahy for their leadership in passing this important legislation for consumers and providers.” – Daniel J. Klemmedson, DDS, MD, President, American Dental Association 

“Repeal of the antitrust exemption for health insurance is great news for consumers. This important fix is long overdue. At last it has become law -- Hallelujah!” – J. Robert Hunter, Director of Insurance, Consumer Federation of America (Texas Insurance Commissioner, 1993-96; Federal Insurance Administrator, 1974-78)

Background:

On February 19th, 2019, Senators Steve Daines and Patrick Leahy introduced the bipartisan legislation in the Senate.