Insurance Groups to Launch Opposition to Expected McCarran-Ferguson Repeal Amendment

NU Online News Service, March 15, 2:40 p.m. EDT

The insurance industry and the National Association of Insurance Commissioners are mobilizing to thwart an effort to add an amendment repealing the McCarran-Ferguson Act to legislation scheduled to be taken up by the House Monday.

Industry trade groups held a meeting Wednesday at the offices of the American Insurance Association inWashington.

It is unclear who attended, according to several people involved in the campaign, because many participated through telephone.

Industry officials refused to comment, saying it was premature.

But those invited included the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America, the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies, the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America, the National Association of Professional Insurance Agents, the Council of Insurance Agents and Brokers, the American Council of Life Insurers, and the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors.

The groups have also prepared a flier they intend to circulate to all members of the House in anticipation that Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz. will introduce the amendment to repeal McCarran-Ferguson for medical-liability insurance, along with health insurance. 

The overall bill is H.R. 452, legislation that would repeal the Independent Payment Advisory Board, a provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

However, legislators plan to add H.R. 5, which would impose federal standards on medical-malpractice lawsuits, as a “pay-for” for the bill.

That is where Gosar’s amendment comes in. He has previously introduced legislation, H.R. 1150, repealing the McCarran-Ferguson Act for purposes of health insurance as well as medical liability insurance, and the industry fears he may offer his legislation as an amendment.

The industry is mobilizing because it fears Gosar’s amendment would be the nose under the camel’s tent.

A flyer the industry intends to circulate to House members cites a Congressional Research Office paper in January 2010 that says, “Passage of any of the measures (the more limited versions impacting health and medical-malpractice insurance) is likely to precipitate litigation to define the scope of the prohibition and/or any remaining exemption.”

The flyer contends, “Repeal of McCarran-Ferguson is anti-competitive.”

It states that McCarran allows insurers, through state oversight of advisory organizations, to share loss-cost data to predict future losses and to develop common policy forms. The Department of Justice has previously determined these activities are permissible because advisory organizations are regulated by state law.

“It is these activities that particularly allow smaller insurers and new-market entrants to properly price their products to cover expected losses and for consumers to be able to easily compare insurance products,” the flyer says.

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