Senate Bill Aims to Increase Transparency and Health Care Options Through Marketplace Competition

Posted on February 11, 2019

The American Dental Association (ADA) is pleased that Sen. Steve Daines (R-Montana) and Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont), introduced S. 350, the “Competitive Health Insurance Reform Act.” This bipartisan legislation would help ensure more competition in the health insurance marketplace by reestablishing federal antitrust enforcement over the health insurance industry.

“If health insurance companies had to follow the antitrust laws when setting rates and designing coverage, it would increase competition among the companies that insure both individual customers and purchasers of large group policies,” said Jeffrey M. Cole, D.D.S., ADA president. “Currently, when health insurers take advantage of providers or consumers, the only recourse is to file a complaint with their state’s insurance commissioner who often has very limited resources. Consumers deserve the right to pursue alternative ways to remedy the drawbacks to the current law.”

This bill is narrowly drawn to apply only to the business of health insurance, including dental insurance. It outlines how the Federal Trade Commission and the Justice Department would help to enforce the federal antitrust laws against health insurance companies engaged in anticompetitive conduct but they will not interfere with the states’ ability to enforce their own regulations, antitrust statutes and consumer protection laws. The U.S. House of Representatives is expected to introduce a companion bill soon.

This legislation, if enacted, will amend a section of the McCarran-Ferguson Act of 1945, which exempted the insurance industry from important provisions of the Sherman Act and the Clayton Act – acts that have the purpose of ensuring fair competition. If passed, this legislation will help level the playing field between health insurers, providers, and consumers. It may also help to make health insurance more affordable for all Americans.

The ADA applauds this bipartisan effort of Congress to deal with this important issue of health care insurance reform.

For more information, visit Actioncenter.ADA.org.

About the ADA

The not-for-profit ADA is the nation's largest dental association, representing 163,000 dentist members. The premier source of oral health information, the ADA has advocated for the public's health and promoted the art and science of dentistry since 1859. The ADA's state-of-the-art research facilities develop and test dental products and materials that have advanced the practice of dentistry and made the patient experience more positive. The ADA Seal of Acceptance long has been a valuable and respected guide to consumer dental care products. The monthly The Journal of the American Dental Association (JADA) is the ADA's flagship publication and the best-read scientific journal in dentistry. For more information about the ADA, visit ADA.org. For more information on oral health, including prevention, care and treatment of dental disease, visit the ADA's consumer website MouthHealthy.org


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