Leahy, Insurance Competition Expert Discuss Importance Of Increasing Competition As An Integral Element Of Health Care Reform

WASHINGTON -- Senator Patrick Leahy joined David Balto, a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress and former policy director for the Bureau of Competition at the Federal Trade Commission, on a conference call this afternoon to discuss the need for increasing competition in the health care industry through the elimination of the antitrust exemption for health insurers. For over sixty years, insurance companies have enjoyed an exemption from federal anti-trust laws, giving them a significant competitive advantage. By eliminating this exemption, the health care industry will at long last be held to the same antitrust standards that are applied to every other American industry, resulting in better, more affordable health insurance choices for the American people and their families.

“A key component of health insurance reform must be encouraging, and ensuring, competition in the insurance industry,” said Leahy.  “Eliminating the health insurance industry’s exemption from federal antitrust laws will ensure that health insurers compete rather than collude.  Antitrust oversight in this industry will provide consumers with confidence that the price they pay is fair, and the product of a competitive marketplace.”

Balto said: “Few markets are as plagued by anticompeititve, deceptive and fraudulent conduct as health insurance. That's why there is an urgent need for comprehensive health care reform, including the public option and an active health insurance exchange. These reforms are necessary to restore transparency and choice to the market and stop abusive conduct by health insurers.”

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