Friday, January 29, 2010

House Democrats Consider Piecemeal Health Reform Legislation

In addition to considering the use of the reconciliation process to pass health reform, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is reviewing options to pass small pieces of the already-proposed legislation.

Ms. Pelosi is reported to believe that the House and the Senate health reform proposals are farther apart than President Barack Obama believes they are, and thus she is looking at specific provisions that could gain quick passage.

One provision mentioned as a stand-alone measure that could find broad Congressional support is the removal of the antitrust exemption for insurance companies. Sec. 262 in the House health reform bill (H.R. 3962) would amend the McCarran-Ferguson Act to apply most antitrust laws to “the business of health insurance or the business of medical malpractice insurance.”

The House provision would continue antitrust exemptions to the determination, collection, and dissemination of historical loss data, which is defined as “information respecting claims paid, or reserves held for claims reported,” by an insurer.

The legislation passed by the Senate (H.R. 3590) does not address the antitrust exemption, although the Senate bill does include provisions to subject insured health care plans to the nondiscrimination rules of self-funded plans.


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