- Rep. Judy Chu, D-CA32, began her tenure as the newest member of the House Judiciary Committee today by voting on a bill that eliminates protections for health insurance companies from antitrust lawsuits.
"I am excited to be the newest member of the Judiciary Committee and look forward to working with Chairman John Conyers, Ranking Member Lamar Smith and my colleagues on the committee on important issues that improve the lives of Americans," said Rep. Chu in a statement following her vote.
"I think it is significant that my first vote in this committee will be on a bill as important and life changing as this one. Like many of you, healthcare is one of my top priorities in Congress, and I believe the only way we can make a system with private insurance work in America is if it based on aggressive competition," added Rep. Chu. "That is why I support the public option, because I believe it provides incentive for competitive pricing in the exchange, and that is why I support this legislation."
The bill, H.R. 3596, The Health Insurance Industry Antitrust Enforcement Act, will not only remove the health insurance industry's limited exemption from federal antitrust laws, but will also allow Justice Department enforcement in areas such as price fixing. It passed the Judiciary Committee by a vote of 20-9.
"I think my constituents would be shocked to learn this antitrust exemption is even on the books -- I know I was. Price fixing, bid rigging and market allocation go against the core of what it means to do business in America, and truly hurt consumers by giving them less choice at a more expensive price," said Rep. Chu. "We cannot implement true healthcare reform if we don't ensure a fair playing field for patients, doctors and insurers. Healthcare is expensive and out of the reach for many even at sticker price, and for many it is a matter of life and death. This bill is at its core about fairness, so I am proud that it passed committee today and hope it willbe included in the final healthcare reform package."
The House Judiciary Committee has jurisdiction over measures relating to law, courts and judges, constitutional amendments, immigration, patents and trademarks and interstate compacts, among others.
As part of her assignment on the Judiciary Committee, Rep. Chu will also serve on the committee's Subcommittee on Constitutional, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, which has jurisdiction over constitutional amendments, constitutional rights, federal civil rights and ethics in government; the Subcommittee on Commercial and Administrative Law, which covers bankruptcy and commercial law, bankruptcy judgeships, administrative law, independent counsels, state taxation affecting interstate commerce and interstate compacts; and the Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security and International Law, with jurisdiction over immigration and naturalization, border security, admission of refugees, treaties and international agreements, claims against the United States, and federal charters of incorporation, among other issues.
This is the second committee assignment for Rep. Chu, who already serves on the House Education and Labor Committee and its subcommitees on Early Childhood, Elementary and Secondary Education and Healthy Families and Communities.