(Gregg is a long-time political and community activist in Louisville and Kentucky. He has spent many an hour working and volunteering at Mother Teresa's Missionaries of Charitty, DrTed.)
During the health reform debate I listen in amazement when I hear the Insurance Industry and politicians say they believe in the free market for private insurance companies and that is the reason we must prevent health insurance reform. Hogwash! The truth is there is only two industries in the United States of America which do not have to follow the Anti-Trust laws of our country, which all other businesses in our country must follow, and that is Major League Baseball and the Insurance Industry. If the Insurance Industry honestly believed in the free market system, like they claim, they would not be upset to have Congress appeal their Anti Trust exemptions. It is very hypocritical to hear them voice such strong support of the free market system, when they do not have to compete under the same free market system as all other businesses must operate. No other business other than MLB has such government sanctioned protections to allow such things as collusion, price fixing and market allocation. This is a major part of the problem that we face today in reforming the health insurance industry.
If politicians of both parties believe in the free market system, like they both parties love to claim, then they would repeal the anti-trust exception for the insurance industry and MLB. There is a reason that most states have very few Insurance companies providing insurance in each state. This could all be banned very easily by repealing exemptions the Anti Trust Law for both of the above. Then we would have competition and thought everyone believes in competition. Isn’t that how the free market is supposed to work? The problem is we seem to have few real leaders in elective office anymore. Few who have guts and honestly care about average Joe, but many who care about Corporate Bob.
Imagine if President Lyndon B. Johnson did not have the courage to pass the Civil Rights Bill and the Voting Rights Act because many people were against it, which they were, even though it was the right and moral thing to do? Johnson was well aware and correct about the negative political ramifications for his party in the South, and he even voiced them before signing the bill, but Johnson signed the bill anyway, knowing the negative consequences which it could have for his party. He was a leader not a follower. It would be great today if we had more elected officials that had backbones like Johnson. But judging from the health care debate they seem few and far between.
Call your Congressman and Senator and urge them to repeal the Antitrust exemptions of the Insurance Industry and make them play in the free market system like the rest of businesses must.