Today, U.S. Congressman John Salazar joined a bipartisan group of members to pass H.R. 4626, Health Insurance Industry Fair Competition Act. This bill is designed to restore competition and transparency to the health insurance market -- by repealing the blanket antitrust exemption afforded to health insurance companies by the McCarran-Ferguson Act of 1945. Under the bill, health insurers will no longer be shielded from legal accountability for: price fixing, dividing up territories among themselves, sabotaging their competitors in order to gain monopoly power, and other such anti-competitive practices.
In a strong bipartisan vote, the House voted 406-19 to pass the bill.
On this vote, Congressman Salazar offered the following statement:
"This is a good first step for health care reform. It was good to see such broad bipartisan support for repealing a 65 year old law that has stood in the way of fair competition in the health care industry. Competition drives down costs. This vote is exactly why people sent us to Washington, and I pledge to continue working to lower health care costs and strengthen our health care system for the long-term."
Competition is the engine that drives our economy, spurs innovation, and ensures that the American consumer receives a fair deal on goods and services. But for far too long, the health insurance industry has played by a different set of rules. Since 1945, the McCarran-Ferguson Act has exempted the business of insurance from federal antitrust laws. Removing health insurance's antitrust exemption will also give antitrust enforcers such as the U.S. Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission the authority to investigate any evidence of possible collusion within the health insurance industry.