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Anti-Trust Exemption Repeal In House Bill

Ryan Grim reported yesterday that Harry Reid decided to leave out the repeal of the insurance industry’s anti-trust exemption from the Senate health care bill, preferring to include it as an amendment on the floor. However, the House bill does include repeal, albeit the partial one that passed the Judiciary Committee and not the full repeal of the exemption that some Democrats sought. The narrow-cast repeal in the House bill refers specifically to “price fixing, market allocation, or monopolization.” This would enable the Justice Department to go after monopolistic practices in the health insurance or the medical malpractice insurance market in the states. While CBO basically said that this would have a minimal effect, it would put those engaged in corrupt practices either in jail or out of business, which is preferable to the alternative.

The fact that the House will embed, and probably pass, this repeal makes its ultimate survival in conference pretty good, since we know Harry Reid, who testified in its favor, is a supporter. He may not have wanted to introduce something in the blend of the bills that didn’t appear in either of them, but that won’t be the case in the conference committee.

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David Dayen

David Dayen