The House voted Wednesday to strip health insurance companies of their exemption from federal antitrust laws, a Democratic measure that could resonate with public concerns about insurers but that has an uncertain future in the Senate.
The provision passed on a 406 to 19 vote, with most Republicans joining all the House Democrats in voting for the measure.
President Obama has said he favors the idea of repealing the exemption, and House Democrats say doing so would add scrutiny to the practices of health insurers. "The American people want and need this protection," said Rep. Peter A. DeFazio (D-Ore.)
Basically, the regulation and oversight of insurance companies was done on a state-by-state basis after a 1945 anti-trust exemption was passed. Nominally, this was supposed to avoid collusion, price manipulation, and other lovely outcomes of monopolization.
Except...well, when you have major corporations who can talk to each other about what they're doing in New York as opposed to Montana, and yet, Montana and New York's attorneys general do not or cannot talk to each other on how to handle it...I said it the other day: in confusion, the more powerful force will manipulate the situation to aggregate more power.
A state or two is not as powerful as a multinational insurer with lobbyists in Congress.
The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office believes this repeal will do little to lower insurance premiums. I disagree. That might be true short term. It will take a while for Congress to bone up on insurance and monopolies. Long term, however, I think this will dampen increases and perhaps even lay the groundwork for lower rates.
If. We. Have. A. Public. Option.
It's funny how Republicans seem so scared of free enterprise. They don't seem to mind the anti-capitalist conglomerates that fund their campaigns, but they mind someone bigger coming along to bully them.