Leahy Bill Pushes Antitrust Laws
CQ Politics reports on new legislation to subject insurers to antitrust laws: "The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday introduced legislation to repeal health and medical malpractice insurers' exemption from federal antitrust laws. The draft legislation, sponsored by Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt., would subject health insurers to antitrust regulation by the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission. Leahy said the measure would help make the health insurance industry more competitive and potentially drive down costs."
"The measure is a narrower version of a broader bill Leahy introduced last Congress that would have repealed the antitrust exemption for all insurance companies. Peter A. DeFazio, D-Ore., has introduced a version of the broader bill this year in the House. ... If the bill was to advance, it would add the Senate Judiciary Committee to the mix of committees considering health care overhaul legislation" (9/17.)
The Wall Street Journal: "Leahy's legislation would strip the exemption for egregious violations, such as price fixing, bid rigging and market allocation. The bill's text indicates that it would not affect states' ability to regulate the business of insurance."
According to the Journal, Leahy said in a statement: "There are many proposals to bring competition to health insurance providers. ... While we are debating these solutions, we should not lose sight of the fact that the health insurance industry currently does not have to play by the same, good-competition rules as other industries. That is wrong, and this legislation corrects it" (Kendall, 9/17).