Insurers had been granted this exemption from federal antitrust laws in 1945 under the McCarran-Ferguson Act. “There's no reason any industry should be exempt from one consumer protection” that applies to everyone else, Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.), who chairs the House Rules Committee, said during House floor debate on the bill.
“Can you imagine the insurance industry being exempt from these rules when Anthem (Blue Cross) just raised its rates by 39%,” said Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.), who co-chairs the Congressional Progressive Caucus. The legislation “will protect us from the Anthems of the world.”
The measure that passed the House would not apply to medical malpractice insurers, although this sector of the industry had been included in a previous version of the bill. The legislation now heads to the Senate for consideration.
More than 150 Republicans voted for the bill, yet some have argued the exemption serves a purpose, that it allows health insurance companies to share data so they can accurately predict their rates. Without this ability, insurers could raise premiums, Republicans claim.
“Democrats tout this plan will increase competition and lower premiums. We don't think that's true,” said Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.).
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