Washington, D.C. – House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) delivered the following remarks during the House Judiciary Committee’s markup of the Competitive Health Insurance Reform Act of 2017 (H.R. 372).
Chairman Goodlatte: Today, the health insurance industry finds itself in a great state of flux. Insurance providers, States, and the public have been dealing with the disastrous repercussions of Obamacare for the past six years, and overregulation by States for much longer.
After the Obama Administration and its congressional allies forced through an unwieldy, 2,700-plus page piece of legislation, containing some of the most convoluted public policy in history, we are left today with health insurance markets besieged by dwindling competition and skyrocketing premiums.
Minnesota Democrat Gov. Mark Dayton recently said, “the Affordable Care Act is no longer affordable.” President Clinton called Obamacare “the craziest thing in the world.” Premiums and deductibles have skyrocketed, hundreds of percent in some cases.
Insurers are also fleeing the Obamacare health insurance exchanges. Health insurers have struggled to make a profit on the Obamacare exchanges since they opened in 2013. Aetna, Humana and UnitedHealth Group abandoned some exchanges altogether in 2016.
In 2017, the national state average of insurers participating in the exchanges dropped to 4, down from 6 in 2016. Some 21% of consumers returning to the exchanges will only have one carrier to choose from. Five States — Alaska, Alabama, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Wyoming — will only have one insurer providing plans on the federal exchange this year. In 2016, only Wyoming had a sole carrier. With rising premiums and providers scaling back their offerings, it is indisputable that Obamacare has forced the health insurance industry down the wrong path.
As Congress works with the new Administration on repealing and replacing Obamacare, all aspects of the industry, including the McCarran-Ferguson Act, are being evaluated.
It is essential that we find a solution that encourages a robust and competitive health insurance market in which insurance providers actively compete for customers. Healthy competition ensures premiums are accurately priced and that customers are able to find a variety of policies to meet their specific needs and demands.
H.R. 372, the Competitive Health Insurance Reform Act of 2017, calls for the repeal of the McCarran-Ferguson Act, as it applies to the business of health insurance. There is wide support for this bill, and this Committee has favorably reported similar legislation in the past, including legislation that was passed by the House 406-19 during the 111th Congress.
The stated goal of the bill is to help restore competition in the healthcare market. I support this goal. However, I believe that any repeal of the McCarran-Ferguson Act must be coupled with larger changes to the existing health care regulatory scheme. Overregulation by States and the federal government has played a significant role in the high concentration and rising prices we see today in the health insurance market. All too often, it is only the large players that are able to navigate the web of rules and requirements forced on this industry.
Moreover, we must ensure that a repeal of the McCarran-Ferguson Act limits any disruption that would lead to higher concentration and reduced consumer choice. As such, we must protect the ability of insurers to continue pro-competitive collaborative practices they have been able to engage in over the past 70 years. A little later, I will offer an amendment to do just that.
Click here to learn more about today’s markup.