WASHINGTON, D.C., Feb 24, 2010 - The Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (IIABA or the Big “I”) expressed concern over House passage of H.R. 4626, the “Health Insurance Industry Fair Competition Act.” This legislation would repeal the McCarran-Ferguson antitrust exemption for health insurers.
The Big “I” strongly believes that the limited antitrust exemption for insurers provides the ability for small and midsized insurers to accurately price risk, thereby enabling them to compete against each other and large insurers for the benefit of consumers. A Congressional Research Service (CRS) report recently confirmed the pro-competitive nature of the McCarran-Ferguson antitrust provisions, stating that efforts to further limit the McCarran-Ferguson antitrust provisions could lead to less competition, undercutting the fundamental purpose of the federal antitrust laws.
“The Big ‘I’ is concerned that, at a time when small businesses across the country are struggling with skyrocketing health care costs, Congress is sidetracked on legislation that will do nothing to contain these costs or bend the cost curve,” says Charles Symington, Big “I” senior vice president of government affairs.
However, the Big “I” does commend the House decision to strip the repeal of the antitrust exemptions for medical liability. As originally drafted in the larger health reform bill, the repeal also included medical professional liability insurers. Medical malpractice insurance is a property/casualty insurance liability product, underwritten by property/casualty companies for medical professionals and facilities. The Big “I” and other property/casualty (P/C) and business associations recently sent a joint letter to all 435 members of the U.S. House of Representatives expressing strong opposition to including medical malpractice insurance in efforts to amend or repeal the McCarran-Ferguson Act.
“While still having concerns with the legislation, the Big ‘I’ is grateful that the House recognized that medical malpractice insurance is a property/casualty product and should not be included in any repeal,” says John Prible, Big “I” vice president of federal government affairs. “Including medical liability insurers in the bill would, in an ironic twist, actually increase health care costs by limiting the competition in the medical liability market and making coverage more expensive for health care professionals.”
Founded in 1896, the Big “I” is the nation’s oldest and largest national association of independent insurance agents and brokers, representing a network of more than 300,000 agents, brokers and their employees nationally. Its members are businesses that offer customers a choice of policies from a variety of insurance companies. Independent agents and brokers offer all lines of insurance—property, casualty, life, health, employee benefit plans and retirement products. Web address: www.independentagent.com.