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Political notes from Free Press staff writers Terri Hallenbeck, Sam Hemingway and Nancy Remsen



Finding friends in health reform

Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-VT, is trumpeting the fact he picked up an important ally in his effort to peel away the insurance industry’s anti-trust immunity – which dates back to a 1945 law.

Leahy’s ally: President Barack Obama. In his Saturday radio address, Obama said he supported a review of the exemption.

The focus of Obama’s radio address was an attack on the insurance industry for standing in the way of health care reform. “ The insurance industry is rolling out the big guns and breaking open their massive war chest – to marshal their forces for one last fight to save the status quo.”

Leahy introduced a bill last month -- the Health Insurance Industry Antitrust Enforcement Act -- which would repeal what Leahy’s says is an “unjustifiable immunity enjoyed by health insurers and medical malpractice insurers.

He took testimony on the bill last week. The House Judiciary Committee apparently is on the same page and could vote on a measure Wednesday.

Leahy said he hoped senators would have an opportunity “to vote up or down on whether to continue this unreasonable exemption. ... Ending this cozy exemption is another way to strengthen consumer choice through a competitive marketplace.”

I’m sure that could be uncomfortable for some senators, which would be why Leahy would like an isolated vote on the question, wouldn't it?

-- Nancy Remsen

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