House panel passes bill to ease rules on insurers, brokers

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Rep. John BarrowJohn Jenkins BarrowOur democracy can’t afford to cut legal aid services from the budget Dem files Ethics complaint on Benghazi panel Barrow thanks staff in farewell speech MORE (D-Ga.) crossed the aisle to support the bill, the only defection in a 26-14 vote that otherwise fell along party lines.

The healthcare law requires insurance companies to spend 80 or 85 percent of their premiums on healthcare costs, leaving only the remaining 15 or 20 percent for profit and administrative expenses. Under the Energy and Commerce bill, agents and brokers' commissions would not count toward insurers' administrative costs.

Agents say the MLR threatens their jobs because insurance companies will scale back premiums to leave more room for profits. Opponents of the bill say the MLR was designed to ensure that consumers get value for their premium dollars and don't want to weaken those standards.