A House panel will decide today whether to clear for floor action later this week a vote on three amendments to the healthcare legislation that would remove the McCarran-Ferguson Act antitrust exemption for health and medical malpractice insurance.
A concerned industry has scheduled a conference call to discuss the proposed amendments, the second industry-wide meeting dealing with the issue within a week.
Industry officials were not available to comment last night.
The House Rules Committee will consider the three amendments at a meeting scheduled for 3 p.m. A total of 20 amendments have been proposed.
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The Rules panel is the gatekeeper for House floor action, setting the rules for debate on House floor action as well as which amendments to clear the floor for.
The legislation in question is H.R. 5, the “Help Efficient, Accessible, Low-Cost, Timely Healthcare (HEALTH) Act of 2011.”
House floor debate is scheduled for Thursday.
The purpose of the measure is to repeal a provision of the healthcare reform law that creates the Independent Payment Advisory Board, a 15-member board whose role is to find ways to reduce growth in Medicare spending.
According to analysts at Washington Analysis, “at one point, there were almost 20 Democratic co-sponsors.”
But efforts to pay for the bill by imposing new limits on medical malpractice lawsuits have “eroded much of that support,” the analysts said.
In any case, the analysts said, “the opposition of Senate Democrats and President Obama ensures that it would not be signed into law regardless of the level of support in the House.”
But efforts to add amendments ending the anti-trust exemption accorded to health insurance providers under the McCarran-Ferguson Act have raised concerns within the insurance industry.