House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., sent a strong message to the insurance industry Thursday when she announced that the health care legislation she expects to bring to the floor next month will include a provision stripping the health insurance industry of its federal antitrust exemption. The bill, approved Wednesday by the House Judiciary Committee, would authorize the government to prosecute insurers for antitrust violations if they are found to be engaged in price fixing, bid rigging or market allocations. Similar legislation is pending in the Senate.
The decision to include the proposal in the health care package was made through negotiations within the House Democratic caucus. Now, the question being asked is: is this a bid to get more votes to get the bill passed? Pelosi is working to gather the 218 House votes necessary for floor passage.
Representative Jason Altmire, D-Penn., was among the Democrats wavering on his vote. He questioned whether including the antitrust change in the bill would do much to change his wavering saying it sounded like Pelosi was still looking, still counting.