House Democrats Press Ahead With New Health Care Plan

Posted February 3, 2010 at 5:03pm

House Democratic leaders are moving forward with Plan B for passing health care reform by introducing a stand-alone measure to strip the antitrust exemption for health insurance companies — a popular piece of their stalled health care reform package.

Freshmen Reps. Tom Perriello (D-Va.) and Betsy Markey (D-Colo.) will file legislation on Friday aimed at barring the insurance industry from fixing prices and setting their own markets without being investigated. The bill, which is set for floor action next week, is the first in what is expected to be a series of health-care-related measures that reflect the piecemeal approach House Democratic leaders are now taking to moving the overhaul.

The bill’s sponsors — both of whom are prime Republican targets in the midterm elections — described the measure as “a common priority,” despite the fact that they voted differently when the House passed its sweeping health care package. Perriello was for the bill; Markey was against it. A measure similar to the Perriello-Markey bill passed earlier in a House committee with bipartisan support.

“It’s time for a simple, clean bill — no carve-outs or special deals — that forces insurance companies to compete,” Perriello said.

Markey said: “This is about bringing sorely needed competition back into an industry that has for too long wielded monopoly control over hard-working American families.”