Wednesday, February 24, 2010

More Like It

This is more like it, and more will like it. According to Robert Reich:

Astonishingly, the health insurance industry is exempt from federal antitrust laws, which is why a handful of insurers have become so dominant in their markets that their customers simply have nowhere else to go. But that protection could soon end: President Obama on Tuesday announced his support of a House bill that would repeal health insurers’ antitrust exemption, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi signaled that she would put it toward an immediate vote.

As Reich points out, this may well do more in one fell swoop than a lot of other more complicated reform proposals. Huge insurance companies specializing in health insurance have swallowed up so many of their previous competitors--all of them doing so using the premiums we've supposedly been paying for health insurance--that most Americans have no choice of health care insurance company.

The choice that the public option was to provide may yet be years away, if it ever happens, but subjecting this monoliths to anti-trust laws could be almost as effective--especially with consumer safeguards now proposed in the Obama reform bill.

Update: This legislation passed the House on Wednesday by a vote of 406-19. By according to TPM, its prospects in the Senate are "dim."

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