Medical Malpractice Excluded from Health Insurers’ Antitrust Legislation

February 22, 2010

Free-standing legislation introduced by Reps. Betsy Markey of Colorado and Thomas Perriello of Virginia to amend the McCarran-Ferguson Act for health insurers no longer includes text to remove the limited antitrust exemption for medical professional liability insurance, according to trade groups representing property/casualty insurers.

The House Rules Committee posted the text of the unnumbered bill that pertains only to health insurers’ antitrust exemption and does not mention medical professional liability insurers. The measure will be considered by the Rules Committee next Tuesday.

“Medical professional liability insurance is not a health insurance product and should not be included in any McCarran-Ferguson reforms,” said representatives of the American Insurance Association (AIA) and the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI). “We’re appreciative of this important recognition by lawmakers not to include medical professional liability insurers as part of these proposed reforms.”

“Every state has a comprehensive insurance regime that governs the insurance industry, including subjecting the industry to antitrust enforcement,” added AIA and PCI in a joint statement. “Medical liability insurers, like other property/casualty companies, are subject to this overarching enforcement structure.”

The McCarran-Ferguson Act does not give insurers a blanket exemption from antitrust laws, rather it delegates insurance regulation and enforcement of antitrust laws to the states, insurers say. In October 2009, the Congressional Budget Office noted that state laws already prohibit issuers of health insurance and medical professional liability insurance from engaging in practices such as price fixing, bid rigging, and market allocations.

Source: PCI, AIA

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