from The Hill
There is gathering momentum in both the House and Senate to repeal
the antitrust exemption for insurers, which I proposed three weeks ago
in my column, "Optional health deal."
The reaction I have received is powerful and electric. That column has
been at the top, or near the top, of the most widely read pieces on thehill.com for three solid weeks, which is unheard of for a modest
columnist such as myself.
My phone has been ringing. The e-mails have been coming. Many from insider Democrats who believe it is time to end price-fixing by insurers, once and for all.
Why is the insurance industry allowed to do what would be illegal in virtually every other industry? Look at the number of states without real competition. Look at the premium increases in state after state, which can be called price-gouging.
Only yesterday one cable television segment described a disabled American who is being forced out of his insurance. An internal memo within the insurance company asked if they could eliminate coverage for all of these "dogs."
This good patriotic American is fighting back by saying, "I am not a dog." Disabled Americans are not dogs. No company should private call its good customers "dogs." There is an attitude adjustment called for here and it is time to lay down the law, not let insurers be exempt from the law.
Eliminate the antitrust exemption. Restore the rule of law. Bring back real competition. Protect American consumers. End price-fixing. Now. Along with passing the public option. Enough is enough.
There are principled Republicans and conservatives who have supported antitrust laws that would end price-fixing and restore real competition. I applaud them.
There are other Republicans who have an outmoded and warped view that price-fixing is fine, that competition can be a charade. And there are Republicans who are simply bought and paid for by those who fix prices and others who call their disabled customers dogs when they think nobody is watching.
And there are a handful of Democrats who also place campaign donations ahead of protecting the public. They should be held to account as well.
We are watching. We should act. We should repeal the antitrust exemption for insurers fully and completely and make price-fixing, price-gouging and collusion illegal for insurers, as those practices are for other companies.