I would love to hear the why from Paul.
Here's the gist from Market-Ticker:
PROOF That I'm Right On Health Care And The Law
I've repeatedly, over some 30 years time, heard that there's "some law" that exempts health care from anti-trust when the discussion turns to the topic of price-fixing, collusion, differential billing for commodities of like kind and quantity and similar. Every time I hear this claim I respond the same way: "Show me the law."
Nobody ever has.
And I haven't asked just once or twice. I've asked dozens of times since the 1990s. I've asked politicians. I've asked lawyers. I've asked political candidates. I've asked policy "wonks" of various flavors. Gary Johnson got asked (Lib candidate for President) in person a number of years back in his suite during the Libertarian convention in Orlando. Yet not one of the people I've asked has ever replied with a title, chapter and section of US code that provides such an exemption.
As just one of many examples I heard this claim during the campaign from a (Democrat) candidate for the US House when I asked him whether he would demand that the executive enforce anti-trust law against all medical providers and suppliers. He said he'd call me with a cite to the law when I responded that with all due respect the exemption he claimed did not exist at a meet-and-greet in a room full of Libertarians. He never did call me. (He lost the election, incidentally.)
I'm utterly convinced that's because the oft-claimed exemption doesn't exist. I'm in fact quite sure of it, because I can actually read the US Code -- it's public, of course, and the sections that could bear on this matter are reasonable in size (that is, I can and have read through them in a day or two.)
Never mind the contravening evidence too - like this case from 1979 that went to the Supreme Court which ruled that Mccarran-Ferguson does not protect insurance companies against anti-trust claims related to drug "discounts" on collusive actions. In other words the insurance company took the case to the Supreme Court and lost, which is damn good evidence that (1) anti-trust does apply to health care broadly including the criminal provisions in the Sherman and Clayton Acts and (2) health insurance firms and providers are not exempt to the extent they collude to restrain trade or fix prices.
It is thus my considered position that the reason the law isn't enforced isn't because it doesn't apply -- it isn't enforced because the Executive voluntarily chooses to refuse to enforce it in collusion with Congress and the States and has done so for 30+ years despite the evidence being clear that the law -- a law that carries both ruinous civil and felony criminal penalties -- is being violated on a daily, continuing basis by the entirety of the so-called "health system."
Nonetheless this line of crap continues to be put forward.
Well, you can stop with that nonsense now, because Rand Paul has just announced intent to file a bill (which has a bill number, but the text is not public as of the date of this post) that explicitly exempts Health Care providers from anti-trust.
Anti-Trust Reform for Healthcare
Provides an exemption from Federal antitrust laws for health care professionals engaged in negotiations with a health plan regarding the terms of a contract under which the professionals provide health care items or services.
This section applies only to health care professionals excluded from the National Labor Relations Act. It would also not apply to contracts or care provided under Medicare, Medicaid, SCHIP, the FEHBP, or the IHS as well as medical and dental care provided to members of the uniformed services and veterans.
Isn't that special?
Rand Paul understands full well that the law prohibits what the entire health system does on a daily basis right here and now. He is thus proposing to make that financial rape-room, which includes apparent violations of both civil and criminal conduct under 15 USC Chapter 1, explicitly legal on an ongoing, forward basis for everyone who is not covered by the government.
In other words for anyone with private health care or health insurance the conduct that is engaged in every single day by virtually every single health provider, hospital, administrator, drug company and other firm -- colluding to fix prices, restrain competition, differential billing of people for like kind and quantity, effective extortion in that if you have no "preferred insurance" you can and will be billed at ten times or more what is paid by someone who has same and more, all of which appears to be, on the plain text of 15 USC Chapter 1 a violation of that 100+ year law and much of which carries 10 year criminal felony imprisonment penalties along with ruinous fines of up to $100 million per occurrence will be made explicitly legal.
You want proof that there is currently no such exemption and that the law has been intentionally ignored and not prosecuted for the last 30+ years, there's the best evidence currently available.
Rand would have no reason to include such a provision if it already existed somewhere else in the law. He'd simply cite said exemption -- or cite something that provides partial protection and extend it.
It is therefore evident that at the present time, and for the previous 30+ years, there has been no such exemption in the law and it certainly appears clear you have been screwed for the previous 30+ years by conduct that the government has refused to prosecute. In fact there is case law going all the way to the Supreme Court that makes clear that 15 USC does apply to health-related firms, as is cited above.
Rand Paul ought to be kicked out of the Senate. Unfortunately it's not illegal for sitting Congresspeople to conspire to restrain trade (Congress and the government itself is, in fact explicitly exempt from anti-trust) or his ass ought to be under indictment for explicitly conspiring to restrain trade himself.
But what Rand has now done, whether he realizes it or not, is to expose that the entire ramp in health care cost over the last 30 years has been driven by this conduct already prohibited by 100+ year old law and that both sides of the aisle have refused, over that same 30 years, to enforce same.
The only answer to what is otherwise inevitably coming -- the destruction of our economy and government -- requires that the law be enforced against all medically-related firms right now. If it is the cost of care will collapse by as much as 85% and thus so will the cost of medical insurance, making the entire argument over "Obamacare" moot since everyone will be able to pay cash for routine events and buy inexpensive catastrophic insurance against rare, but possible catastrophes.