Bipartisan legislators seek insight on enforcement of medical health insurance industry antitrust

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A bipartisan group of lawmakers recently forwarded correspondence to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), searching for insight regarding medical health insurance industry federal antitrust enforcement.

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U.S. Reps. Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Drew Ferguson (R-GA), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Ken Buck (R-CO), and David Cicilline (D-RI) sent a letter to U.S. Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Kanter, requesting information regarding how the DOJ is utilizing expanded authorities address medical health insurance industry anti-competitive practices.

The lawmakers noted that DeFazio’s Competitive Health Insurance Reform Act (CHIRA), signed into law in January 2021, eliminated a special interest loophole empowering the DOJ to implement federal antitrust law within the medical health insurance industry. 

“Repealing the antiquated antitrust exemption for the medical health insurance industry was a monumental legislative achievement, but we must make sure the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission use their expanded authorities to crack down on any anticompetitive practices on this wealthy industry,” DeFazio said. “Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, nearly 1 in 4 Americans—including insured Americans—were skipping medical care and prescription drug doses due to high costs. Today, while inexpensive medical care is more vital than ever, medical health insurance corporations proceed to price-gouge consumers and reap massive profits on the backs of seniors, working families, and on a regular basis Americans.”

The lawmakers requested answers to questions addressing whether the Antitrust Division submitted any amicus briefs, notices of supplemental authority, business advisory opinions, or other filings regarding the legal consequences of the Competitive Health Insurance Reform Act in any private litigation; steps the Antitrust Division has taken to review existing healthcare guidelines to find out whether refinements or recent guidelines are needed; and whether there are other statutes or case law stopping DOJ efforts to implement medical health insurance markets antitrust laws.

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