A proposal to ban a controversial provision used in contracts between health care providers and insurance companies passed the House by a vote of 140-0 Thursday. It now goes to the Senate.

The provision, known as a most favored nation clause, requires a hospital or health care provider to give an insurance company the lowest rates it offers. Hospitals and physicians lobbied for the ban, saying the clauses are unfair and anti-competitive. The insurance company ConnectiCare also supported the bill, arguing that it creates an uneven playing field among insurers.

Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, which uses the provision in contracts, argued that the clauses benefit consumers by securing the lowest rates. The company also noted that no federal or Connecticut courts have found the clauses to be illegal or anti-competitive.

During a debate on the proposal, Rep. Christopher D. Coutu, R-Norwich, said the bill raised questions about how much government should get involved in contract issues. But he ultimately supported the measure. Rep. Susan M. Johnson, D-Windham, and Rep. Jason D. Perillo, R-Shelton, called the provisions anti-competitive.

Several other states have already banned or restricted most favored nation clauses. The U.S. Department of Justice filed an antitrust lawsuit against Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Michigan over its use of most favored nation clauses.

Arielle Levin Becker covered health care for The Connecticut Mirror. She previously worked for The Hartford Courant, most recently as its health reporter, and has also covered small towns, courts and education in Connecticut and New Jersey. She was a finalist in 2009 for the prestigious Livingston Award for Young Journalists, a recipient of a Knight Science Journalism Fellowship and the third-place winner in 2013 for an in-depth piece on caregivers from the National Association of Health Journalists. She is a 2004 graduate of Yale University.

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