Dems want to end Health Insurance Co’s monopoly exemption

insured by mafiaShould Health Insurance companies continue to hold monopoly control of regional health insurance coverage and also be allowed to cream the young and healthy and deny coverage to everyone else? 

This sounds more like the Mafia than like any “regulated” industry.  But it’s what we have now.

Dems target health industry anti-trust

By DAVID ESPO      October 21, 2009

Top Senate Democrats intend to try to strip the health insurance industry of its exemption from federal antitrust laws, according to congressional officials, the latest evidence of a deepening struggle over President Barack Obama’s effort to overhaul the health care industry.

If enacted, the switch would mean greater federal regulation for an industry that recently has stepped up its criticism of portions of a health care bill moving toward the Senate floor.

Congressional officials said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada and Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, arranged to make the announcement Wednesday, joined by Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York.

The officials who disclosed the plans did so on condition of anonymity to avoid pre-empting a formal announcement.

In a statement, the major industry trade group, America’s Health Insurance Plans, said the industry already was one of the most regulated in the country. The focus on the industry’s antitrust exemption, it said, was “a political ploy designed to distract attention away from the real issue of rising health care costs.”

The move against the antitrust exemption came as Obama appealed to congressional Democrats not to let internal differences sink his comprehensive plan to remake the nation’s health care system. “The bill you least like” improves coverage for millions, he said in New York. “Let’s make sure that we keep our eye on the prize.”

After months of struggle, Democratic leaders in the House and Senate hope to have legislation ready for votes in both houses within a few weeks, and plan on having a compromise measure ready for Obama’s signature by the end of the year.

Progress has been slow, particularly as Democrats squabble over whether to allow the federal government to sell insurance in direct competition with private insurers, and if so, under what terms. Obama’s remarks appeared an attempt to place that and similar disagreements in a larger context — a decades-long attempt to provide insurance for millions who lack it while cracking down on insurance industry practices such as denying coverage on the basis of pre-existing medical conditions.

Insurance industry officials have been involved in discussions for months with the White House and key congressional Democrats over proposed legislation. They repeatedly said they would accept a series of new restrictions, as long as the legislation required Americans to purchase insurance, thus assuring insurers millions of new customers.

The tone changed last week after the Senate Finance Committee approved legislation that exempted an estimated 2 million individuals from the requirement to purchase insurance and greatly reduced the penalties on those still subject to the requirement.

In a report paid for by the insurance industry, the accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers said the legislation would add $1,700 a year to the cost of family coverage in 2013 when most of the major provisions of the Senate Finance Committee bill would be in effect.

The White House, Democrats in Congress and other supporters of the legislation attacked the study as flawed and deceptive.

Within a few days, Leahy convened a Judiciary Committee meeting to air the possibility of revoking the industry’s antitrust exemption.

Copyright © 2009 The Associated Press

6 responses to “Dems want to end Health Insurance Co’s monopoly exemption

  1. oh, but these crybaby capitalists don’t want an even playing field. Neoliberalism is about the giants freely trading the billions of little peeps out of the business, out of health care, out of public transit.

    The insurance industry – a complete parasite on the economy – can only survive by denying coverage. Like Kucinich got them to admit – they only exist by denying care.

    We don’t need this parasite; we can’t afford another industry bailout. And screw the idiots who think we’re gonna pay their mafia demands.

    Icelanders are emigrating becuz they’re not paying the IMF loan their crooked leaders signed up for. They’re simply leaving the country.

    Oh, sure, bust the monopolies – allow tiny insurance companies to exist. But don’t force us to buy insurance. Insurance increases the cost of everything and they only make a profit by denying coverage.

    I drive maybe 30 miles a month and pay $175 a month for state minimum car insurance. What a fucking scam. I don’t even earn a living wage; I barely drive my vehicle (but you gotta have one in South Florida). Yet, sociopaths running things want another helicopter.

    The DC plan — whatever plan they come up with — “Improves coverage” for all those extras that top execs want. On the backs of working folks who earn less than our counterparts 40 years ago.

    We the People REJECT the insurance requirement! What a SCAM! But, if the Dems find the spine to actually bust the insurance monopolies, I swear, I’ll be okay with a strong PRIVATE option in a universal health care plan for the US.

    Otherwise, eat the rich.

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  3. I want to apologise to any Mafiosi who may have been offended by my lead-in comments to this article.

    While I sincerely believe the Insurance Industry is a legalized extortion racket, I also believe the Mafia would give us better services.

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