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The anti-trust measure is gone - bring it back

December 24, 2009 - Mike Maneval

Now that both houses of congress have passed differing versions of legislation to improve health care, the two will begin working on a compromise. BusinessWeek reports President Barack Obama - perhaps trying to keep the momentum going - maintained the difference is as little as 5 percent - a seemingly arbitrary "figure" for policy implications that can't be quantified.

One key difference regards monopolies in health insurance. Under current law health insurers are exempt from trust-busting, an exemption the House bill revoked. A comparison of the health care reform bills passed in the House and Senate by the Chicago Tribune confirms the Senate's legislation will allow the anti-trust exemption enjoyed by health insurance companies for practices such as price-gouging and bid-rigging to remain in place. It will most likely fall upon members of the U.S. House to fight for its return.

It remains to be seen if House members will hold fast to expectations of the exemption's repeal. But, ending the anti-trust exemption would be a concrete step toward a more competitive market for the insured, increasing their options and, ultimately, their ability to pressure the market into delivering its service for a price affordable to working families. And it accomplishes one of the reform effort's goals - improving consumer choice - while sidestepping the most contentious issues of the expansion of government administration, which have bogged down our ability to find workable solutions. Which makes it not only good policy but a smart place for House members to begin to build the compromise on.

 
 

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