WASHINGTON BUREAU — Rep. Dan Lungren has won a change to H.R. 3596, the House Judiciary Committee health antitrust exemption bill, that could reduce the bill’s practical effects.

H.R. 3596, a companion bill to S. 1681, would block health insurers and medical malpractice insurers from using the antitrust exemption provisions in the McCarran-Ferguson Act.

Health insurers and others have argued that the exemption has nothing to do with health insurance company mergers, acquisitions and market share, and mainly affects insurers’ ability to share underwriting data.

Senate leaders have agreed to let S. 1681 supporters offer the legislation as an amendment to the main Senate health bill when the health bill comes up for debate on the Senate floor, and many believe House leaders will add H.R. 3596 to the main House health bill.

But, shortly before the House Judiciary Committee advanced H.R. 3596, Lungren, R-Calif., succeeded at persuading colleagues to adopt an amendment regarding “exclusions.”

The amendment could protect some underwriting and actuarial activities from the full brunt of antitrust repeal.

The amendment text states that, “This Act shall not apply to making a contract, or engaging in a combination or conspiracy (1) to collect, compile, or disseminate historical loss data; (2) to determine a loss development factor applicable to historical loss data; or (3) to perform actuarial services if such contract, combination, or conspiracy does not involve a restraint of trade.”

Judiciary Committee members adopted the amendment by a voice vote.

Allison Bell contributed information to this report.