The House Will Vote to Eliminate Health Insurance's Anti-Trust Exemption Next Week

I just got off a conference call with Speaker Pelosi. While she had a lot of optimistic things to say about the passage of a Senate plus sidecar bill, the big piece of news is that the House will pass (meaning, I presume she has the votes) a bill eliminating the anti-trust exemption for insurers and medical malpractice companies next week.

As she pointed out, the insurers have had this exemption for 65 years, and “the result has not been good” for consumers. And the only other industry that has been given such an exemption is major league baseball.

She said that, among other things, eliminating the exemption will allow the federal government to investigation collusion and price-fixing among insurers.

I presume this is one of those bills designed to force Republicans to vote to protect the insurance industry–and as such, it is good politics. I’d be even happier if there were any prospect of it getting passed in the Senate, which I doubt. It would be nice to have on more piece of leverage to exercise with the insurance industry.

  1. Teddy Partridge says:

    Leaving aside her decision regarding ‘off the table’ Nancy Pelosi will be remembered as one of America’s greatest Speakers. There’s very little she hasn’t accomplished in Barack Obama’s first year that he asked her to do.

    • Larue says:

      I remain of the mind that she’d be better off doing what WE THE PEOPLE demand she do, rather than kowtowing to a centrist and corporate bought and paid for President.

      I don’t hardly ever disagree with ya, hoss . . . but she’s been WAY too deferential of corporate interests from FISA forward the day Obama was elected.

    • Leen says:

      Impeachment for lying about an unnecessary war. Creating, cherry picking and disseminating false pre war intelligence. Hundreds of thousands dead, injured, millions displaced all based on the Bush administration’s “pack of lies” And impeachment is off the table.

      Pelosi was a chicken shit on this one and clearly underestimated the Americans public and the world’s anger about the unnecessary and immoral invasion of Iraq.

      If there is a hell anyone involved with the lies, and lack of holding these thugs accountable will be doing time there. Has to be some justice in regard to that horrific war

  2. BoxTurtle says:

    This would be a good thing, if it happens. Let’s see how much money the insurance companies have left to channel to the House.

    Boxturtle (Possible alternate translation: “I know it will die in the senate”)

    • MarkH says:

      Maybe it’s a trial of the idea that the issues HCR needs ‘fixed’ in reconciliation can be done via regular bills originated in the House and passed in the Senate, so the House can then reliably pass the Senate bill.

      If it can be done before Brown the deal goes through without any hitches or hiccups at all.

      Or maybe it’s just, as was said, a political wedge issue vote.

  3. freepatriot says:

    this is one of those bills designed to force Republicans to vote to protect the insurance industry–and as such, it is good

    I’m thinking Barack Obama realized that he has to fight or die

    he decided to fight, apparently

    healthcare, bank regulation, corporate personhood

    Obama has decided to make the repuglitarded party defend the status quo

    it’s about fucking time

    some people might think I should cut Obama some slack, but he didn’t do it for us

    he did it to save his own ass

    coming to a decision on self preservation a year late and a dollar short ain’t an admirable trait in my book

    • BoxTurtle says:

      In politics, you must learn to accept the right decision even though it’s made for the wrong reasons.

      Boxturtle (An honest politician is one that stays bought)

      • freepatriot says:

        In politics, you must learn to accept the right decision even though it’s made for the wrong reasons

        I can accept it

        I just wont support the process that led to it

        I unnerstan that a lot of politics is kabuki

        and I play my part

        I’m not really sane, I jes act like it on teh innertoobz

    • Larue says:

      So far Obama has only TALKED about fighting, I still see him and Rhammy and the WH holding back a vibrant PO in HRC, holding back on TRUE competition and regulation on private insurers and the medical industrial complex and PhARMA,.

      And I don’t really see them leading and championing for REAL banking/finan reform, I see them behind the scenes watering down all they can, while trumpeting gay rights DADT repeal (which may or may not actually ever fly despite the kabuki).

      I see NO changes to FISA, Patriot Act, two wars.

      And I see too little in terms of creating employment and protecting Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security.

      I see little support on and on down the progressive list of things important to better this nation’s masses.

      Lemme know when the words become real actions, and are forced and jammed thru a Senate and House where the Dem’s have majorities but the corporate Dem’s block all reforms of any sorts.

    • rkilowatt says:

      Canada’s single-payer health premiums:

      Over $28000/yr income:

      1 person $54/month

      2 persons $96/mo

      over 2…108/mo

      p.s. The US Senate Gang Of 6 that wrote Senate Healthcare bill, represented states whose combined population is less than 3% of US population:

      Baucus; Montana; 0.967 Million; 0.3 %

      Conrad; N.Dakota; 0.641 M. 0.2 %

      Enzi ; Wyoming; 0.533 M. 0.2 %

      Grassley; Iowa; 3.002 M. 1.0 %

      Snowe; Maine; 1.316 M. 0.4 %

      Bingiman; N.Mexico; 1.984 M. 0.6%

      TOTALS 8.443 M. < 3 % [of 307,000,000 total population]

    • Larue says:

      We’re fucked, then, on all counts if Pelosi is caving in, Senate votes or not, they can be HAD if the WH and DNC and DLCC withdraw funding and support for those ConservaDems who might oppose a vibrant PO.

      But we know that’s never gonna happen, bacause the DNC and DLCC are corporate driven, bought and paid for, as are both parties.

      Pelosi could have EASILY have taken that theme to the media, been elected Queen Of The Republic, but she caved in and betrayed we the people, and all her prog caucus.

      She’s a caver, there’s NO denying that, she put her OWN position above that of the masses, and she and the party will pay for it EXTENSIVELY for it in ’10.

      Cowards, one and all, all of them we elected to serve us. Bought and paid for, servants of the system at hand, run by the corporate feudalists.

      Bastids, one and all.

  4. eCAHNomics says:

    Sounds like another one of the Ds’ cover votes to allow senate to cave while maintaining a D patina of “for the people.” Latest in kabuki.

  5. ShotoJamf says:

    I’d be even happier if there were any prospect of it getting passed in the Senate, which I doubt.

    I’m assuming Pelosi is aware of this, also. Accordingly, is she simply staging a show that she hopes will placate the progressives, etc? Yes, it’s good politics, but if it’s all BS in the end (and she knows it), I’d be inclined to call her out on it…but that’s just me.

  6. masaccio says:

    You know, if they pass enough of these anti-corporatist statutes, maybe something will get done. How long can you act like a tool of the rich without scaring off the rational people?

  7. freepatriot says:

    Not the wine in the box, right? ;-)

    what the hell, splurge a little

    go for da good stuff

    git em some “Two Buck Chuck”


    btw, “box wine” is considered an upgrade at casa de patriot

  8. willf says:

    I presume this is one of those bills designed to force Republicans to vote to protect the insurance industry–and as such, it is good politics.

    How good can the politics of the move be when Nelson, Lieberman, Lincoln, Baucus and Bayh will all vote against it, as well?

  9. clemenza says:

    ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ, please. Enough already. Anything good will be voted down somewhere, somehow. Better still, Obama will work his magic behind our backs. So stick it in your ear, Off the Table Nancy

  10. gtomkins says:

    Our side should have pursued this anti-trust line more vigorously all along. The reason that our health insurance and health care delivery industries have such high costs is mostly because they are rife with monopolies, oligopolies and cartels. The exchange definitely, and probably a public option as well, would simply be frustrated in creating effective, price-lowering competition, until and unless the cartels are broken up first.

    Last but not least, shy of out-and-out Single Payer, this line would be the best political approach to HCR, and would not be hobbled by the connection with “socialism” that the weak sisters on our side let frighten them away from Single Payer. Nothing is more pro-free market than trust-busting, ending monopolies and cartels. It is only a threat to crony capitalists. The great thing politically about bringing down prices by busting the trusts that keep them artificially high, is that it promises something from HCR for that majority of Americans who do have health insurance. Everyone, including these people who actually vote all the time, would benefit from lower premiums.

    We don’t have to actually kill off the industry to get good, solid social insurance for health care. France and Holland are examples of countries where they have solid social insurance, closely regulated by the govt, but administered through private insurers. Break up the big hospital chains, the big insurers, and Big Pharma, and we too can have social insurance on the Dutch model. We don’t need to kill the industry, we just need to castrate it.

  11. kols says:

    We can only dream they will vote to eliminate the anti-trust exemption. I can’t imagine any of Rs in the Senate letting it pass even if it unmasks what to me is their obvious love of the insurance industry.

    If this passes the next thing I’d like to see is removing the subsidy for Medicare Advantage plans. The government skims money from traditional Medicare to subsidize Medicare Advantage plans (private insurance). Why is this fair to people with traditional Medicare who are forced to buy supplemental insurance to get anything close of adequate coverage? This is a misuse of Medicare funds to subsidize private insurance plans while forcing those with traditional Medicare to help those with Medicare Advantage plans get better insurance.

    You can bet some of that money to subsidize Medicare Advantage is coming from the money paid in by those currently in the work force. I do believe this is or was in the House plan but not in the Senate plan. I also believe that many of the cuts in Medicare were to come from stopping the subsidy to Medicare Advantage.

  12. gonalb says:

    I think that the passage of the Senate bill with the sidecar modifications is a ploy to basically put the whole HCR effort to rest and leave the insurers better off and the people in need of medical care worse off.

    This ploy is simply a capitulation to the wishes of the medical related lobbies and leaves their influence, interests and profits more entrenched than ever. Speaker Pelosi is just stepping away and leaving behind the enormous mess and giveaway that is the Senate bill.

    I see the effort of the Virginia legislature which today deemed it illegal for the US government to mandate that its residents purchase health insurance a precedent which all states should follow. This sort of effort by the states would show their contempt for the arbitrary and punitive laws passed by this bougth off government.

  13. eventhorizon says:

    Anything Pelosi dislikes is probably good for America. It will be a good day when she finally gets dumped into the retirement bin where she belongs.

  14. fides2 says:

    This is not news. Nobody cares what Pelosi or the House thinks or does.

    The House, like the electorate, is officially irrelevant.

    We cheered when the reform bill passed the House. Then the Millionaire’s Club of the Senate pissed on it and flushed it down the toilet.

    The Senate will destroy this, too, because of the tyranny of the super-minority and the DINOs.

    And Pelosi today says the public option is dead.

    I’m sick of Pelosi and the rest of the gang toying with our lives, like they are the aristocracy and we are the peasants.

    When the revolution starts, may it be short and satisfying…for the peasants.

    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      The Senate will destroy this, too, because of the tyranny of the super-minority and the DINOs.

      The Senate’s dysfunction will be starkly revealed by this single issue.
      The tyranny, and those GOP senators who are part of it — along with Blue Dogs — will be exposed to the harsh light of day like nothing that has ever happened to them.
      That’s the upside.

      • transparait says:

        Right. Or. Pelosi will cobble together a couple of bandaids to excuse the house passing the senate bill, then all of them house and senate will smile for the cameras with frozen politician’s smiles, and toss the word ‘historic’ around while slapping each other on the back while they sell us out to the insurance companies. All the while hoping enough suckers buy it to keep their seats in November. Craven.

        No public option, no mandate.

  15. readerOfTeaLeaves says:

    Wow, the negativity around this thread is a wonder to behold.

    This is the same Pelosi who went to Syria, which generated hysterics from the BushCheney cabal?
    This is the same Pelosi who made the Dems finally coalesce and stop getting their asses kicked by the Rovian shitfest slingers back around 2005?
    This is the same Pelosi who was set up by Cheney so they could blame all the waterboarding on her, because they claimed to have briefed her (but they seem to have been less than fully forthcoming)?
    This is the same Pelosi who somehow managed to cobble enough Dems into line after Tom ‘the Hammer’ Delay had nearly run the House into the ground permanently, with that tool Hastert on his heels?

    Anyone who thinks that Pelosi isn’t tough or doesn’t mean business is kidding themselves.

    The Dems have a ton on the line, and they have to deliver.

    I think Freep called this one right on the money; the Dems are fighting, and it’s long overdue.

    As for all the whining about the Senate; notice in that SOTU speech how complimentary Obama was about the House. No bouquets for the Senate.

    People across the political spectrum are starting to question the filibuster rule, and point out that the GOP has used it to obstruct.

    I’m with Ed Renzell and Doris Kearns Goodwin: the Dems need to put this on the line in the Senate, then simply MAKE the Republicans follow the rules of filibuster: no toilet breaks, water, or milk, and you cannot stop talking. Go for it. It would only expose the Rovian underbelly of the GOP, plus their complete lack of solutions.

    This one aspect of the HCR package is simple enough that it would be ideal for the Dems to use as ‘filibuster bait’ for the GOP. How many incumbents are going to be re-elected for voting **against** eliminating the anti-trust measure on health care? Z-e-r-o.

    If the GOP insists that none of their Senators vote to repeal the antitrust on health care, they’ll commit political suicide. I say, “Bring. It. On.”

  16. GrahamFirchlis says:

    Good for you, Marcy, for keeping in touch with Pelosi. We know her very well out here in NorCal as a staunch patriotic Progressive who has struggled bravely against the Reactionary forces and done as good a job of it as anyone possibly could.

    I hope you get a feel for her through these contacts, as both a person and a politician. I have known her for a very long time. She is a caring, kind, decent, intelligent and compassionate person. I admire her greatly, and am deeply thankful for her public service. Our nation would be in far worse shape were it not for her dedication and sacrifice.

  17. alinaustex says:

    This is about making all the bought off corporatist politicians pay for their turpitude with the Big Business interest while We the People continue to agitate for change . Which ever politician is seen being bribed by the Corporate elite they will be held to account . If DINO Bacaus wants to ‘mark up’ the thirty billion dollars tarp money going to community banks -fine- it will make him even more of a target for a primary challenge (assuming its not to late this cycle ) .

    We the People need to give our honest politicians cover to take back our Country . Madam Speaker -I believe – intends to continue her best to champion progressive causes . The cup is half full not half empty . This has been a pretty good week for progressives -we need to stay on offense.

  18. alinaustex says:

    eventhorizon @ 42

    You appear to be new to these parts . Have you been a troll for the Republitards/Dino Corporatist very long ?

  19. empiricalguy says:

    I’ll believe it when I see it. I’ve had a bellyful of lies from congressional Democrats and our hopey-changey President.