Personally, I have long been bothered by the manner in which certain industries have been granted exempt status under the anti-trust laws and been allowed to operate in either a complete monopoly - e.g., electric and gas utilities which have no competition and often are granted a guaranteed rate of return unlike any other businesses - or in a relatively small groups of companies that always seem to be (i) conspiring among each other to avoid true competition and (ii) doing nothing to provide consumers with efficient, cost effective options. Would that my firm could have a guaranteed rate of return and protection from any real competition. Now, faced with the lies and lobbying by the health insurance industry which cares nothing about providing consumers with viable options Congress is about to revisit the exempt status of the health care insurance industry from the anti-trust laws. This is a case of threatening to hit these companies where it will really, really hurt and it is something that is long overdue. Here are some highlights from Huffington Post:
The battle against the health insurance industry is steadily intensifying. House Democrats have formally scheduled a vote to revoke the industry's cherished antitrust protection, according to a statement from Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.). The move comes after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) have put up a unified front, calling for an end to the anti-competitive practice. On Thursday, Pelosi noted to reporters that the Judiciary Committee had held a hearing on repealing the 1945 McCarran-Ferguson Act, which exempts the insurance industry from antitrust laws.
Conyers announced Friday he'd take it to the next level and hold a vote on October 21. "These abuses are plainly illegal in other industries, and it does not make sense, when Congress is working so hard to bring meaningful reform to the market in health insurance, that health insurers should continue to be exempted from federal antitrust oversight," said Conyers. "This bill is an important complement to the public insurance option in ensuring that American families get the full benefits of choice, affordability, reliability, and quality service that competition brings."*
For far too long, health insurance companies have been exempted from playing by the rules that most other businesses must live by. They have abused that benefit. Now is the time to require them to abide by the same rules as everyone else. I believe it is long past time to repeal this exemption," he said.*
The plain fact is that the health insurance industry has proven itself to be a rapacious, greedy parasite that rakes in money in the form of premiums and then looks for every possible means to deny coverage or pass costs back to insured Americans. Having abused the privilege that they were afforded, it is time that consequences come home to roost.