Members of the U.S. House are getting closer to a final vote on H.R. 372, a health insurance antitrust bill, and H.R. 1101, a bill that would let multi-state association health plans sell coverage across state lines.
Members agreed 234-182 to hold a final vote on the antitrust bill. One Democrat, Rep. Charlie Crist, D-Fla., crossed party lines to support holding a vote on the bill; all other Democrats opposed letting the bill come up on the floor.
The resolution for bringing the association health plan bill up on the floor passed 233-186, on a straight party-line vote.
The House plans to bring both bills up for a vote Wednesday.
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Health insurers have been fighting efforts to limit their antitrust protection for years.
Congress gave the “business of insurance” protection from federal antitrust McCarran-Ferguson Act of 1945, based on the idea that the business of insurance should be subject to state oversight, not federal oversight.
Washington-based America’s Health Insurance Plans has argued in the past that the McCarran-Ferguson antitrust exemption has no effect on mergers and acquisitions, and that it exists mainly to give insurers the ability to make insurance markets work better, by pooling experience data and developing standardized forms.
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H.R. 372 includes “safe harbors,” or exemptions from the proposed antitrust exemption, for four types of activities, including collecting historical loss data; determining a “loss development factor applicable to historical loss data”; performing actuarial services, “if such contract… does not involve a restraint of trade”; and developing a standard insurance policy form and form terminology, if the standard does not “require adherence to such standard form.”
Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colo., led the debate against consideration of H.R. 372.
Polis said he agrees with the goal of the bill, but he said “it distracts us from the elephant in the room.”