WASHINGTON BUREAU — An antitrust provision added to H.R. 3962 earlier this week looks harmless, but it could cause big problems.
Blain Rethmeier, a spokman for the American Insurance Association, Washington, says the AIA believes the new language, included in the “manager’s amendment” to H.R. 3962, the Affordable Health Care for America Act bill, would fix one set of problems but create new problems.
The amendment was offered by Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., chairman-emeritus of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
Like earlier health bill antitrust provisions, the provision would limit the ability of health and medical malpractice insurers to use the antitrust exemption in the McCarran-Ferguson Act. The latest version of the provision states that, “Nothing contained in this Act shall modify, impair, or supersede the operation of any of the antitrust laws with respect to the business of health insurance or the business of medical malpractice insurance.”
Safe harbor clauses would provide exceptions for “collecting, compiling, classifying, or disseminating historical loss data; determining a loss development factor applicable to historical loss data; or performing actuarial services if doing so does not involve a restraint of trade.”
Unlike the earlier versions of the antitrust repeal language, the latest version does not introduce new, undefined statutory terms such as “price-fixing” or “market allocation,” Rethmeier says.
But the latest provision would let federal antitrust laws broadly apply to the “business of health insurance or the business of medical malpractice insurance,” Rethmeier says.