With Reform Jammed, Pelosi Moves Forward On Insurance Industry Antitrust Bill

January 28, 2010 8:59 a.m.

As I reported yesterday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is planning to move ancillary health care measures through the House, which she hopes will augment comprehensive legislation if and when House and Senate leaders figure out how to move ahead on a bill. One of the issues said to be under consideration was a repeal of the health insurance industry’s anti-trust exemptions.

A House source confirms that, the week after next, Pelosi will likely move ahead with legislation to accomplish such a repeal.

Pelosi hinted strongly that such a move was afoot at her weekly press conference this morning.

“We must pass this legislation, and we must take whatever time it takes to do it,” Pelosi said. Some things we can do on the side which may not fit into a bigger plan. That doesn’t mean that’s a substitute for doing comprehensive [reform]. It means we will move on many fronts. Any front we can.”“Some of these sidebar issues are issues that are very important, they can be done, they can move quickly, and that’s not about one thing before another,” Pelosi added. “It’s about time.”

As I noted last night, there are a number of strategic and substantive rationales for the move. It can improve the comprehensive bill in the eyes of the House (making it easier for her to ultimately get a successful vote on the Senate’s legislation). It turns up the pressure on all parties –but particularly the Senate–to make sure that a final, comprehensive bill passes. And it helps upend the narrative of a health care logjam.

As Pelosi put it: “You go through the gate. If the gate’s closed, you go over the fence. If the fence is too high, we’ll pole vault in. If that doesn’t work, we’ll parachute in. But we’re going to get health care reform passed for the American people.”

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