Reid, Leahy and Schumer Join Consumers Union President To Announce Amendment To Promote Fair Competition Within The Health Insurance Industry

Washington, DC— Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy and Democratic Conference Vice Chairman Charles Schumer held a press conference with Jim Guest of the Consumers Union today to announce that The Health Insurance Industry Antitrust Enforcement Act of 2009 will be offered as an amendment to health insurance reform legislation.  The bill, which was first introduced in September by Chairman Leahy, promotes competition in the health insurance and medical malpractice insurance industries that will benefit consumers.  Providing antitrust exemptions for insurance companies has been anticompetitive and damaging to the American family and the American economy.

“There is no reason why insurance companies should have exemption from antitrust laws,” said Senator Reid. “It’s time to level the playing field for American health care consumers and make the insurance industry play by the same rules that other industries live by.  Chairman Leahy has been a tremendous leader on this issue of fairness in the insurance marketplace and I am looking forward to working with Senators Leahy and Schumer to pass this amendment.”

“During the Senate’s debate on healthcare reform, I will offer as an amendment the Health Insurance Industry Antitrust Enforcement Act, which will eliminate the antitrust exemption for health insurance and medical malpractice insurance companies and ensure health insurers compete rather than collude,” said Senator Leahy.  “The American people deserve reform that serves their needs, not the special interests of insurance companies.  Ending this cozy exemption is another way to strengthen consumer choice through a competitive marketplace.”

“The health insurance’s antitrust exemption is sort of an accident of American history,” said Senator Schumer.  “But today, with the health insurance industry one of the most highly concentrated in our entire economy, it is obsolete. We can’t pass effective health care reform if we don’t hold health insurance companies to the same standards as other American industries.”

“When it comes to competition, health insurance companies should not get a free pass,” said Jim Guest, President of Consumers Union, non-profit publisher of Consumer Reports.  “It’s bad for consumers, bad for patients and bad for taxpayers.”

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