President Obama is trying to convince Congress to pass legislation that would end the insurance industry's exemption from federal antitrust laws, according to The New York Times. As much as I write about antitrust litigation, investigations and pre-merger probes, you'd think the subject of exemption would have come up at least once in four years, but maybe not.
As a whole, the insurance industry has been exempt from federal antitrust restrictions since the McCarran-Ferguson Act became law in 1945.
A House bill sponsored by Rep. Betsy Markey, D-Colo., would remove the federal antitrust exemption and theoretically increase competition in the health insurance industry, reports The Greeley Tribune. In announcing White House support for the measure on Tuesday, spokesperson Robert Gibbs told reporters:
Removing this exemption will allow appropriate enforcement and examination of potential policies that might prove uncompetitive, or might stifle competition.
The move comes as the administration works to revive its faltering health care reform legislation, which has been stalled since the Democrats lost their supermajority in the Senate with the election of Scott Brown, R-Mass., to fill the seat of the late Sen. Edward Kennedy. Part and parcel with that effort, of course, comes the push -- complete with stimulus funds--- to take all medical records digital in the next four years.