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Perriello: End antitrust exemption for health-insurance companies

  
Staff Report
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Fifth District Congressman Tom Perriello and Congresswoman Betsy Markey will introduce legislation this week that will repeal the special antitrust exemption for health-insurance companies and medical malpractice insurance companies.

The measure would end special treatment for the insurance industry that allows them to fix prices, collude with each other, and set their own markets without fear of being investigated. Removing this exemption has been a common priority of these two freshmen lawmakers, though they voted differently on the initial House health-care reform bill.

They will formally unveil the bill at a press conference on Friday. 

“It’s time for Washington to decide whether we stand with patients or profiteering, whether we believe in market competition or a collusion between politicians and insurance monopolies. It’s time to end the monopoly protections that Washington has protected for decades as prices skyrocketed. It’s time for a simple, clean bill – no carve-outs or special deals – that forces insurance companies to compete. It’s time to put patients and cost relief first,” said Rep. Perriello. “Americans deserve to know who stands with them against the price gouging of middle-class and working-class folks. Today, we do.”

“I’ve heard from tens of thousands of Coloradans across my district, and though people’s opinions may vary, the common message is clear: the current health-care system is crushing our families and businesses,” said Rep. Markey. “Support for removing this unfair exemption cuts across party lines, and is a major piece of common ground that I’ve been working toward in our country’s health-care debate. This is about bringing sorely-needed competition back into an industry that has for too long wielded monopoly control over hard-working American families.”

Under the Perriello-Markey bill, health insurers will no longer be protected from liability for price fixing, dividing up market territories, or bid rigging. In the last 14 years, there have been 400 mergers among health-care insurers so that 95 percent of health-insurance markets are “highly concentrated,” which means consumers have little or no choice between insurers.

This noncompetitive market has led to health-insurance premiums having more than doubled in the past decade.

A measure similar to the Perriello-Markey bill passed earlier in a House committee with bipartisan support.

 


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