The U.S. House of Representatives has passed HR 372, the Competitive Health Insurance Reform Act, 416 to 7. The bill, sponsored by Congressman Gosar of Arizona, was supported by The Coalition to Protect Patient Choice. David Balto testified in favor of the bill before the House Judiciary Committee on February 16. George Slover of Consumers Union also testified and sent a letter to the committee, which was signed by Consumers Union and Consumer Federation of America.
Congressman Gosar said in a statement, “Today, an overwhelming bipartisan majority in the House joined me in taking a historic step to begin rebuilding America’s healthcare market. As a dentist for over 25 years, I know first-hand that restoring the application of federal antitrust laws to the business of health insurance is the key to unlocking greater competition in the marketplace. Making health insurance companies compete in a free-market will result in huge benefits for hospitals, doctors and most importantly, patients. History has always shown us that when we put the patient first and demand that health insurance companies compete for their business, premiums go down while quality goes up. I’m proud to have led this effort in the House and call on Senate leaders to take up this bipartisan legislation in a timely matter.”
HR 372 partially removes an antitrust exemption for health insurers, a priority the House has had for a number of years. A previous version of the legislation passed in the 111th Congress by a vote of 406 to 19 but died in the Senate. The CPPC, consumer groups, and other supporters of the legislation, including the American Dental Association, American Optometric Association and American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, are hopeful about prospects in the Senate this time around.