A coalition of industry associations is working to scuttle an amendment to financial reform legislation that would strip health insurers of anti-trust protections currently enjoyed under the auspices of the McCarran-Ferguson Act.

In a letter to legislators, the group warned that the amendment authored by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D.-Vt.) would set a bad precedent and pave the way for all insurers losing their exemptions.

“While the amendment targets health insurers, its flawed language and lack of definitions are a bad precedent for repealing the anti-trust exemption for any line of insurance whether it is health, life or property/casualty,” the letter states. “The McCarran-Ferguson act is crucial to market-based competition in the property-casualty market.  It creates a limited exemption from federal anti-trust law only to the extent that the business of insurance is regulated by the states.”

The amendment is seen by some as way to punish health insurers for opposing health care reform. The letter states that since it deals with health care reform, it is not germane to the reform of financial services, which is the intent of the bill to which the amendment is attached.

“An amendment dealing with health care issues does not belong in financial regulatory reform legislation,” the letter states. “This amendment was specifically NOT included in the recently enacted health care reform legislation and should be rejected in this legislation.”

Signers of the letter include: American Insurance Association, the Financial Services Roundtable, Council of Insurance Agents and Brokers, Independent Agents & Brokers of America, National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors, National Association of Mutual Insurance Cos., National Association of Professional Insurance Agents, Physician Insurers Association of America, Property Casualty Insurers Association of America, and the Reinsurance Association of America.

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