Congressman Bill Owens today voted in favor of legislation that will repeal the special anti-trust exemption for health insurance firms and medical malpractice insurance companies. The measure would end special treatment for the insurance industry that allows them to fix prices and set their own markets without fear of being investigated. H.R. 4626, the Health Insurance Industry Fair Competition Act, passed with overwhelming bipartisan support by a vote of 406-19. Owens is an original cosponsor of the legislation.
"There is no legal, rational, or moral reason to grant insurance companies an anti-trust exemption, and it has to stop," said Owens. "My top priority is job creation, and taking away insurance companies legal trust status will improve our system in the right way by lowering insurance costs for small business owners, and encourage them to create quality jobs."
Under the Health Insurance Industry Fair Competition Act, insurers will no longer be protected from liability for price fixing, dividing up market territories or bid rigging. In the last 14 years, there have been 400 mergers among health care insurers so that 95% of health insurance markets are "highly concentrated," which means consumers have little or no choice between insurers. This non-competitive market has led to health insurance premiums having more than doubled in the past decade.
"Every month we hear of record profits for insurance companies and CEOs while we see our own costs rise. Washington must reform our system in the right way without taxing health care benefits, cutting Medicare, or crippling our small business community. Legislation like this improves our health care system and lowers costs without adding to our national debt."
H.R. 4626 was introduced earlier this month by Rep. Tom Perriello (VA-5) and Rep. Betsy Markey (CO-4).