Washington, DC - Congresswoman Barbara Lee voted to ensure that American consumers get a real choice and a fair deal when purchasing health insurance. The Health Insurance Industry Fair Competition Act (H.R. 4626) will take away the anti-trust exemption for health insurance companies, requiring them to compete fairly and adhere to the same anti-trust laws as other companies. The measured passed the House 406-19.
For 65 years, the health insurance industry has been legally exempt from anti-trust laws, and the federal government was banned from even investigating evidence of possible collusion. In the last 14 years alone, there have been 400 mergers among health insurers and now 94% of all insurance markets are “highly concentrated” – meaning consumers have little or no choice between insurance providers.
Health insurers that were previously exempt from anti-trust laws will now bear legal responsibility for price fixing, dividing up territories among themselves and sabotaging their competitors in order to gain a monopoly in the marketplace. Such practices have been outlawed in other industries for decades.
“Removing the health insurance industry's anti-trust exemption is an important step forward to ensuring that they abide by the same consumer protection laws that exist for all other industries in the United States,” said Congresswoman Lee. “Providing federal oversight over the health insurance industry will complement the efforts of state regulators to ensure competition in the marketplace and a fair deal for consumers.
“As important as the passage of this provision today is, we still need comprehensive health care reform that includes a strong public option if we are truly going to rein in the abuses of the health insurance industry.”
The Honorable Barbara Lee (CA-9)
2444 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
(202) 226-0323 (Direct)
(202) 579-1925 (Cell)
(202) 225-9817 (Fax)