Friday, October 16, 2009

End the Health Insurance Antitrust Exemption

I was delighted to learn that even Harry Reid has taken up this call.

Insurance greed 2 It is unfathomable that the health industry is the only one in this nation besides major league baseball that is exempt from antitrust laws. Bravo to the Senate Judiciary Committee on its smart political timing to use this to ratchet up pressure on the insurance companies.

Even Harry Reid is talking tough on this:

"Since 1945, the insurance industry has enjoyed exemption from federal antitrust laws because of the McCarran-Ferguson Act," Mr. Reid said. "Pat McCarran, who was the senior senator from Nevada at the time, lent his name to this piece of legislation. Although we’re both Nevadans, I’m not sure what Pat McCarran had in mind when he pushed this bill. And if Pat were around today, he couldn’t be happy with the state of the insurance industry."

Providing an exemption for insurance companies to antitrust laws has been anticompetitive and damaging to the American economy," Mr. Reid continued. "Health insurance premiums have continued to rise at a rapid rate, forcing businesses to cut back on health insurance coverage and forcing many families to choose between health insurance and basic necessities."

He added: "Insurance companies have become so large they dominate entire regions of the country. They have become so powerful they block start-up businesses from entering the market, and they put smaller companies out of business. They have become so dominant that they dictate business practices. They are so influential that they exert tremendous influence over public policy."

That exemption should most definitely be repealed, and likely will be in whatever reform bill passes this fall...

...If Reid and the Senate Dems are really serious about ending the anticompetitive nature of the insurance industry, do what has always worked most effectively in regulating business--create competition. Use the corrective power of the marketplace to rein in industry abuses. Create a strong public option capable of providing that competition… [emphasis added]

Inserted from <Daily Kos>

During the early days of health coverage, I can see where it might have been good to grant Insurance companies temporary exemption from antitrust laws to allow pools sufficiently large to reduce rates to form.  Those days are long gone, and now, Big Insurance uses the exemption to to screw their clients.  I can see no justification for allowing them to keep it.

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