Antitrust bill won’t change much in Colorado

A measure that would lift the federal antitrust exemption for the health care industry won’t affect the working of the health care system in Grand Junction, U.S. Rep. John Salazar, D-Colo., said Wednesday.

Salazar was one of 409 votes Wednesday for the Health Care Insurance Industry Fair Competition Act, H.R. 4626, that would repeal the blanket antitrust exemption afforded to health insurance companies by the McCarran-Ferguson Act of 1945.

Salazar met Saturday with Rocky Mountain Health Plans President Steve ErkenBrack to discuss the possible effects on Rocky Mountain Health Plans. Colorado’s antitrust laws mirror those of the federal government, so there will be little change in the state, ErkenBrack told Salazar.

The change, however, will allow federal officials to investigate whether insurers are colluding, fixing prices or taking part in other prohibited practices, Salazar said.

The bill, Salazar said, is part of the “incremental change” he favors for the health care system.

“I think that’s what we have to do to move things forward,” he said.

One of the no votes, U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Aurora, called the vote a “quick and hollow” victory.

It also falls short, Coffman said, because it failed to include provisions that would increase competition by allowing the purchase of health insurance across state lines.


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