Healthcare: Antitrust Bill Is Anti-Competition

03.08.2013
Issues & Policies

Yet another bill before the legislature would result in higher healthcare costs in Connecticut. While it’s actually an antitrust bill, HB 6431 deals with an important issue in the ongoing healthcare debate.  

Competition drives lower prices and better service, and the purpose of antitrust laws is to enable fair competition to reign in the marketplace.

But HB 6431 exempts healthcare providers from the antitrust laws that protect consumers against certain entities forming monopolies and wielding too much power over price. 

This is very big concern, since most health insurance premiums will continue to rise in 2014 with continued implementation of federal healthcare legislation. 

The proposal essentially swaps the interests of consumers for the financial interest of providers. This will result in the providers having significant influence over healthcare prices in Connecticut, leading to higher costs for consumers.

Federal agencies including the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Department of Justice also believe that such provider antitrust exemptions would increase the cost, but not the quality, of healthcare (Improving Health Care: A Dose of Competition, 2004). 

In fact, the FTC responded to a similar bill proposed by the Connecticut legislature in 2011, saying that such a proposal would be “likely to lead to dramatically increased costs and decreased access to health care for Connecticut consumers.” (Letter from the Federal Trade Commission, June 8, 2011)

This week, the Attorney General’s office testified against the bill and cited, among other things, the FTC’s 2011 letter.

It is hard to understand why anyone would seek to exempt providers from antitrust law when reliable guidance clearly warns of its negative results. 

With 2014 just months away, Connecticut’s businesses and residents are already faced with game-changing federal healthcare legislation; more state regulation will only further complicate an already confusing market. 

Connecticut deserves a private insurance market that is permitted to respond to consumer demands and is based on transparency and fair competition.

For more information, contact CBIA’s Jennifer Herz at 860.244.1921 or jennifer.herz@cbia.com.

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