Reid: Repeal “Damaging” Antitrust Exemptions For Insurers
Leading Senate Democrats moved today to repeal a law protecting insurers from antitrust taboos in the wake of an industry-sponsored report that condemned a key reform proposal, the New York Times reports. Testifying before the Judiciary Committee as a witness, Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said, "Providing an exemption for insurance companies to antitrust laws has been anticompetitive and damaging to the American economy."
The exemption has been in place since 1945. Reid and other critics say it allows insurance companies to monopolize markets and fix prices, raising the cost of coverage for consumers.
"The chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Senator Patrick J. Leahy, Democrat of Vermont, has introduced a bill - the Health Insurance Industry Antitrust Enforcement Act - that would repeal the insurance industry's limited exemption." Some Democrats such as New York Sen. Charles Schumer have said the bill should be included in the final health-overhaul bill.
"That effort could gain momentum as Democrats continue to hit back at a main industry trade group, America's Health Insurance Plans, which issued a report on Sunday night asserting that the Democrats' legislation would lead to a steep rise in health insurance premiums" (Herszenhorn, 10/14).