The House Judiciary Committee has passed H.R. 3596, The Health Insurance Industry Antitrust Enforcement Act of 2009 by a margin of 20-9.

"Today’s vote is an important step forward toward opening up health and medical malpractice insurance markets to real competition," Committee Chairman John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) Conyers said in a statement. "Joined by three of my Republican colleagues, the House Judiciary Committee agreed to bring antitrust enforcement to the two most abusive practices of the health insurance industry—price fixing and market allocation.”

Conyers said the bill preserves state regulation of insurance and will prevent abusive practices.

“No one on this committee believes that price-fixing or carving up markets is a good thing, and the wide, bipartisan support for this bill’s passage reflects this,” he said. “This measure fixes a mistake sitting on the federal statutes for over sixty years, making an important contribution to the health reform efforts underway in both houses of Congress."

Last week, some witnesses testifying before the committee expressed concern that the language of the bill was too vague.

Speaking on behalf of the American Academy of Actuaries, James Hurley, a consultant with New York-based Towers Perrin, testified the legislation could potentially squelch long-standing data sharing initiatives among medical liability providers.

H.R. 3596 is not the only bill that threatened the antitrust exemption the insurance has enjoyed since the McCarran Ferguson Act passed in 1945. House, H.R. 1583, The Insurance Industry Competition Act of 2009, is broader and would essentially repeal all antitrust exemption for insurers.



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