There Has To Be A Counterweight To The Malevolence Of The Insurance Industry. - Sen. Jay Rockefeller
Well theres a mouthful. The quote, from Senator Rockefeller in the context of the health care reform debate, was said in an interview on Bloomberg Televisions Political Capital with Al Hunt, airing this weekend. He is not only critical of the insurance industry, but he intends to do something about it. Specifically, Rockefeller said he would introduce an amendment requiring insurers to spend 85 percent of their revenue on health care for consumers. Rockefeller also said he would back a plan, in separate legislation, to repeal the insurance industries antitrust exemption. Rockefeller was critical of Senate Finance Committee because it failed to include the public option, although he did vote for it. Rockefellers proposed amendments shows how he is honed in on the different ways health insurers pad their bottom line at the expense of the public and wants to confront these excesses by spurring competition and controlling costs. His amendment limiting insurers to spending 15% of their revenues on health care is a direct attack on insurers bloated administrative costs, costs that are often manipulated upwards for smaller businesses. Senator Rockefellers malevolence quote and the insurance industrys antitrust exemption do not only apply to health care, but also to most all kinds of insurance, including motor vehicle insurance and liability insurance. The federal McCarran-Ferguson Act of 1945 exempted the insurance industry from anti-trust regulation, thus exempting it from competition laws that apply to virtually every other company doing business. Insurers are free to collude on risk assessment and rate-setting in ways that would be illegal in any other industry. This past March Rep. Gene Taylor, D-Miss., and Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., introduced leglislation that would remove the federal antitrust exemption from the insurance industry but still maintain state regulation. The House Judiciary Committee have scheduled a vote for October 21 to revoke the industry's antitrust protection In September, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt. has introduced legislation, the Health Insurance Industry Antitrust Enforcement Act, to eliminate a federal antitrust exemption for health insurance and medical malpractice insurance companies. The two key provisions of the Act will repeal the federal antitrust exemption for health insurance and medical malpractice insurance companies for price-fixing, bid rigging, and market allocations. The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on the legislation this past Wednesday, October 14. Senator Leahy in 2007 introduced a bill to fully repeal the 1945 McCarran-Ferguson Act for all insurers. President Barak Obama also went on the attack against the insurance industry this weekend. He accused the industry of "filling the airwaves with deceptive and dishonest ads," sending money and lobbyists to Capitol Hill and paying for studies "designed to mislead the American people." One starts to get the feeling that now that health care reform is out of committee and on the Senate floor, the direction of the debate is beginning to change significantly. Issues that have not been prominently if at all discussed, such as the antitrust exemption, may take center stage and the end result may very well be markedly different from the way things look now. The turning point may be the roundly criticized report of the lobbying organization Americas Health Insurance Plans, or AHIP, that attacked the reform plan just passed by the Senate Finance Committee so fiercely and inaccurately that it was a thinly disguised hatchet job. The lawyers at Levine & Slavit have decades of experience handling personal injury claims including those involving medical malpractice. For 50 years spanning 3 generations, we have obtained results for satisfied clients. We have offices in Manhattan and Long Island, handling cases in New York City, the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and surrounding areas. To learn more, watch our videos.