Second Opinion: ADA supports competition, except in dentistry

2013 12 23 15 23 25 385 Second Opinion 200

The American Dental Association (ADA) feels strongly that health insurance companies must be subject to the same competitive rules that apply to every other U.S. business.

Every business except dentistry, of course.

On Tuesday April 12, the ADA submitted written testimony to the U.S. Senate "urging committee members to re-examine the antitrust exemption enjoyed by health insurance companies as a result of the 1945 McCarran-Ferguson law."

Steven Krauss, DDS, MPH, MBA.Steven Krauss, DDS, MPH, MBA.

The ADA advocated "consideration of any and all means to introduce competition and make health insurance affordable for all Americans."

The association noted that "an important step toward achieving these objectives is eliminating the outdated antitrust exemption that grants health insurers special status and permits them to ignore the competitive rules that apply to every other U.S. business."

The ADA "strongly supports" the Competitive Health Insurance Reform Act, which authorizes the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Justice Department to "enforce the federal antitrust laws against health insurance companies engaged in anticompetitive conduct" without interfering with the states' enforcement of their own regulations, antitrust statues, and consumer protection laws.

When considering its own profession, however, the ADA takes the opposite position.

In a 2013 amicus brief filed in North Carolina State Board of Dental Examiners v. Federal Trade Commission, the ADA took the approach that the FTC should not intrude in healthcare regulatory matters traditionally the responsibility of the states.

According to the brief, "the public is best served when state regulatory boards ... are free to make decisions .... without fear of second-guessing under the federal antitrust laws."

I guess when the ADA supports any and all means to make healthcare affordable, it means any and all means except obstructing the special status accorded to dentists.

Oh well. We all need to look out for No. 1.

Steven Krauss, DDS, MPH, MBA, is a practicing pediatric dentist in Lawrence, NY. For more than 20 years, Dr. Krauss has been an assistant clinical professor at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City.

The comments and observations expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the opinions of, nor should they be construed as an endorsement or admonishment of any particular idea, vendor, or organization.

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