Wednesday the House voted overwhelmingly to abolish the exemption the health insurance monopolies have been enjoying from antitrust laws. I spoke to half a dozen candidates running for House seats from around the country, all of whom were very enthusiastic about the action (as you can see at the link above). Today an old Blue America friend, Rep. John Hall, sent us a statement reminding us that he's been talking about doing just this since last summer.
Finally, the House of Representatives has repealed the anti-trust exemption for the health insurance industry. I have been talking about this since last August, when it elicited applause from progressives and conservatives alike in my health care town hall meetings. I have spoken forcefully in our caucus about the insanity of allowing monopolistic practices, price-fixing, collusion and consolidation by corporations which are gouging the consumer with skyrocketing insurance premiums, shrinking coverage, underpaying of doctors, and refusing coverage to Americans with pre-existing conditions.
Today, we finally got a debate and a vote on this first, clear issue pertaining to health care reform. Competition is key in driving down costs for families and small businesses. Monopolies kill competition. I have not heard a credible reason for health insurance companies to have such protection. It is especially obvious when Anthem Blue Cross just proposed a premium hike of 39% for one year, while simultaneously posting record profits and dropping millions more from coverage. I have heard from many of you who have experienced similar hikes from your insurance companies.
Enough is enough. I co-sponsored the legislation that passed by a bipartisan vote of 406-19. Republican Representatives argued strenuously against the bill, then flip-flopped and voted for it. I guess they didn't want to face the voters after casting a vote to protect an industry that clearly does not need protection.
By chance I also happened to be on the phone with Roxanne Conlin, a progressive Democrat running for the Iowa Senate seat currently occupied by anti-health-care fanatic Chuck Grassley. Roxanne is an attorney who "has devoted her law practice in Des Moines, Iowa to representing people who have been injured by others, whether by discrimination, products, doctors or vehicles and has gained national attention and the respect of her peers in the process." She knows quite a lot about why repealing the McCarran-Ferguson Act will be a tremendous boost for the whole cause of health care reform. John and I have invited her to C&L today (at noon, PT) to talk about this issue as the bill moves on to the Senate, the body she is aspiring to be part of. Meet us-- and Roxanne-- in the comments section.