Mr. CONYERS. Mr. Speaker, today I am pleased to introduce the Health Insurance Industry Antitrust Enforcement Act of 2013.
This bill would level the playing field between health care professionals and insurance companies in the health care industry and improve the quality of patient care. The Health Insurance Industry Antitrust Enforcement Act of 2013 would eliminate the antitrust immunity provided under the McCarran-Ferguson Act for price fixing, bid rigging, and market allocation by health insurance issuers or medical malpractice insurers. The bill would also repeal the McCarran-Ferguson exemption for the business of health insurance and enable enforcement by the Federal Trade Commission.
The purpose of this bill is to extend antitrust enforcement over health insurers and medical malpractice insurance issuers, which currently enjoy broad antitrust immunity under the McCarran-Ferguson Act. This immunity can serve as a shield for activities that might otherwise violate federal law.
This bill will end the mistake Congress made in 1945 when it added an antitrust exemption for insurance companies into the McCarran-Ferguson Act. The blanket antitrust exemption created by the 1945 bill has shielded health insurance companies from legal accountability for decades. Our nation's antitrust laws exist to protect free-market competition and this bill will restore competition to the health insurance marketplace.
The House Judiciary Committee held extensive hearings on the effects of the insurance industry's antitrust exemption throughout the 1980s and early 1990s. It became clear that the exemption was not needed to enable the insurance industry to provide any service to their policyholders, and that policyholders and the economy in general would benefit from increased competition among insurance providers.
I urge my colleagues to support this bill because it would prohibit price fixing, bid rigging, and market allocation, pernicious practices that are detrimental to competition and result in fewer options and higher prices for consumers.
The bill I introduce today is intended to root out unlawful activity in an industry that has grown complacent by decades of protection from antitrust oversight. In doing so, we aim to make health insurance more affordable to more Americans.