Maloney votes to restore competition to health insurance marketplace

Feb 24, 2010
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) today voted to pass the Health Insurance Industry Fair Competition Act, H.R. 4626, which will repeal the anti-trust exemption for health insurance companies, requiring them to compete fairly and adhere to the same anti-trust laws as other companies.

“For too long, Americans have been taken for a ride by health insurance companies that don’t play by the rules of fairness and competition in the marketplace,” said Maloney, a cosponsor of the bill. “We constantly face higher premiums, reduced coverage and limited choices of plans. Enough is enough.”

The health insurance industry has been legally exempt from anti-trust laws since 1946; the federal government was banned from even investigating evidence of possible collusion. Yet during the last 14 years, there have been 400 mergers among health insurers and now 94% of all insurance markets in the country are “highly concentrated” – meaning consumers have little or no choice between insurance providers.

“Competition is the core principle of our economy,” said Rep. Maloney. “And for consumers, it’s a guarantee of two things: more choices and lower costs. It is the engine that drives economic growth, spurs American innovation and ensures that consumers are getting a fair deal. This bill creates a fair health insurance marketplace and helps put our economy on sound footing for the future.”

Health insurers that were previously exempt from anti-trust laws will now bear legal responsibility for price fixing, dividing up territories among themselves and sabotaging their competitors in order to gain a monopoly in the marketplace. Such practices have been outlawed in other industries for decades.

The legislation is supported by numerous groups including the American Hospital Association, American Nurses Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, Consumers Union, Consumer Federation of America, Center for Justice and Democracy, and U.S. PIRG.

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