Groups backing Obama health plan seek antitrust probe of health insurance industry
Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, Associated Press Writer
On Wednesday May 20, 2009, 3:19 am EDT
WASHINGTON (AP) — Activists backing President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul are asking the Justice Department to open a wide-ranging investigation of what they say is monopoly-like power in the hands of major insurers.
The move by Health Care for America Now has consequences for the debate on Capitol Hill, since health insurers have been working closely with lawmakers to find a compromise that would expand coverage and curb costs.
The letter sends a message to Democrats that many of their constituents don’t trust the industry. Indeed, the activist group is one of the strongest supporters of setting up a government health plan to compete with private insurers.
“A lack of antitrust enforcement has enabled insurers to acquire dominant positions in almost every metropolitan market,” said the letter to the Justice Department, signed by Richard Kirsch, the group’s director. “The failure to attack anticompetitive practices has enhanced the dominant positions of these insurers. This must be reversed.”…
It’s going to be a busy one.