Congressional Misdiagnosis

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As Congress moves forward with its health care reform efforts, a last-minute proposal to revoke the 64-year-old exemption from federal antitrust laws for health insurers has flown under the media radar. Proponents of the repeal proposal tout it as a broadly popular effort to slow the consolidation of the health insurance industry and promote more vigorous price competition. But the change would do nothing to prevent insurance firm mergers, which are already subject to federal oversight. However, federalizing antitrust enforcement over the insurance industry would unnecessarily duplicate existing state insurance regulations and jeopardize practices that help small insurers compete.