Democrats have decided to take on the insurance industry to strip it of a long-time exemption from American antitrust laws. This could be the iron fist part of the velvet glove in the Obama administration’s efforts to enact a major health care reform package. If such proposals become law, they would, in the words of Democratic Senator Pat Leahy, end “price-fixing, bid-rigging and market allocation in the health and medical malpractice” insurance areas. Leahy is chairman of the Senate judiciary committee. He added he would seek a vote on this when the full Senate begins its debate on health care legislation soon. The House of Representatives’ judiciary committee has already voted 20-9 to end the industry’s exemption that dates back to 1945, with three Republicans supporting the move as well. These efforts reflect a growing anger over the insurance industry’s attempts to influence health care legislation and its issuance of a study, just as the finance committee was due to vote, predicting major increases in medical insurance premiums.
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