Today, Congressman Jim Moran hailed the House’s passage of legislation spearheaded by Virginia Congressman Tom Perriello to foster increased competition among health insurers and lower premiums for consumers. H.R. 4626, the Health Insurance Industry Fair Competition Act, will repeal the special anti-trust exemption for the health insurance industry. The legislation prevailed on a 406 – 19 vote.
“We need to end monopoly protections for the insurance industry and make them play by the same rules as every other business and industry in America,” said Congressman Moran. “Allowing the free market to work will provide more competition and in turn, lower prices for consumers.”
Under the 1945 McCarran-Ferguson Act, insurance companies are shielded from federal prosecution for bid-rigging, price fixing, and dividing up market territories. The health insurance industry remains one of only two sectors (the other one being Major League Baseball) that is exempt from U.S. anti-monopoly laws. This has left consumers with few choices and less competition. Health insurance premiums have more than doubled since 2000, while the health insurance industry has had over 400 mergers in the last 14 years. Today, 95 percent of health insurance markets are “highly concentrated,” leaving consumers has little or no choices in many regions of the country.
“Its time to close the book on 65 years of special treatment for the health insurance industry – to fix prices, collude, and gerrymander their market territory without repercussion. This bill will bring accountability and transparency that sorely lacking,” Moran said after the vote. “Today, we are one step closer to leveling the playing field for the American health insurance consumer.”