Last year the House passed legislation which would repeal the limited exemption the insurance industry received when Congress passed the McCarran-Ferguson Act of 1945. The law shields insurance companies from federal antitrust laws as long as they are subject to state regulations.
Among those opposed to a repeal of the exemption is Nebraska Senator Ben Nelson, a Democrat who provided the 60th vote that cleared the way for the Senate’s Dec. 24 passage of its health bill. Nelson, a former insurance company executive and state insurance regulator, says a repeal would hurt small insurers.
House Rules Committee Chairman Louise Slaughter told reporters that Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy is negotiating with Nelson on the exemption to try to get his support.
“There is no earthly reason for the insurance companies to be exempt from the antitrust laws,” she said.
President Obama has now voiced his support for the repeal of the exemption. We’ll see who wins this healthcare battle very soon.