Leahy Amendment Would Repeal Antitrust Exemption for Insurers
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) on Wednesday filed an amendment to the financial regulatory overhaul package (S 3217) that would repeal the federal antitrust exemption for health insurance companies, CQ Today reports.
The House in February passed legislation (HR 4626) that would eliminate the exemption, and the Obama administration supports the measure.
However, moderate Senate Democrats have opposed it, causing some to worry that it could not surmount a Republican filibuster.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who was concerned that the antitrust measure could hinder the health reform legislation's chance of passage, left the provision out of the overhaul. Reid supports Leahy's amendment, according to CQ Today.
Opponents of the measure argue that eliminating the exemption could have the unintended effect of consolidating the insurance industry by way of limiting smaller insurers' ability to compete.
The current law allows pricing data to be shared. They also cite an October 2009 Congressional Budget Office report that questioned whether removing the exemption actually would lower consumer costs.
Reid is negotiating with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on several aspects of the financial regulation bill, and it is unclear if and when the bill will be voted on, CQ Today reports (Ethridge, CQ Today, 5/5).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.