The Senate voted in the wee hours of Tuesday morning to repeal insurers’ federal antitrust enforcement immunity, sending the bill to the president’s desk.
The Competitive Health Insurance Reform Act would amend the 1945 McCarran-Ferguson Act, which gave insurers federal immunity from antitrust enforcement and delegated primary authority to regulate consolidation in the insurance industry.
The bill allows the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission to regulate health insurance markets.
America’s Health Insurance Plans President and CEO Matt Eyles said the COVID-19 crisis proved that states should have the flexibility to regulate their own insurance markets.
“Removal of this exemption adds tremendous administrative costs while delivering absolutely no value for patients and consumers,” Eyles said in a written statement.
The issue has advanced with wide bipartisan support this year as large, for-profit insurers are perceived to have benefited from lower healthcare volumes in 2020. The 2016 GOP platform also proposed doing away with insurers’ federal antitrust enforcement immunity.
The House of Representatives passed the bill on Sept. 21. The measure was left out of a massive COVID-19 relief and omnibus spending bill at the end of the year, but passed separately by unanimous consent in the Senate.