Campaign Promises

Cabinet/Departments -> Justice -> Anti-Trust Law


ItemJustice
Anti-Trust LawGrade
JU-2
The Promise: "Strengthen antitrust laws to prevent insurers from overcharging physicians for their malpractice insurance."
When/Where: Obama-Biden Plan: "To Lower Health Care Costs and Ensure Affordable, Accessible Health Care for All," dated 10/03/08.
Source: http://courses.ischool.berkeley.edu/i202/f08/lectures/Obama_Healthcare-1.pdf
Status:On 09/17/09, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) introduced the "Health Insurance Industry Antitrust Enforcement Act of 2009" (S. 1681). No action was taken on this bill prior to the 111th Congress' expiration at the end of CY2010.

Also on 09/17/09, Congressman John Conyers Jr. (D-MI) introduced a House version of the "Health Insurance Industry Antitrust Enforcement Act of 2009" (H.R. 3596). This bill was intended to provide that medical malpractice insurance issuers would be subject to antitrust laws. Since no action was taken on this bill by the 111th Congress prior to its expiration, it was reintroduced by Congressman Conyers to the 112th Congress as H.R. 5838 on 05/18/12. This bill expired with the 112th Congress at the end of CY2012. It was reintroduced yet again by Congreeman Conyers on 01/03/13 as H.R. 99 and died again with the 113th Congress. In a final attempt during the Obama Presidency, Congressman Conyers reintroduced the "Health Insurance Industry Antitrust Enforcement Act" on 01/06/15 (H.R. 99). It died with the 114th Congress.

Meanwhile the Secretary of Health and Human Services administered a $23M portfolio under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (H.R. 3590) for states to experiment with alternatives to medical malpractice lawsuits. The objective of this exercise was to minimize what was considered over-litigation that ultimately drove the high prices for malpractice insurance -- costs usually passed on to the health care recipient.

As of end-CY2016, this promise was not fulfilled.
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JU-3
The Promise: "...will reinvigorate antitrust enforcement, which is how we ensure that capitalism works for consumers."
When/Where: Obama Plan: "Connecting and Empowering All Americans Through Technology and Innovation" dated 11/13/07.
Source: https://www.wired.com/images_blogs/threatlevel/2009/04/obamatechplan.pdf
Status:Antitrust enforcement is a joint responsibility of the Department of Justice (DOJ) Antitrust Division and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The authoritative Hart-Scott-Rodino (HSR) Annual Report was used at the macro level to assess whether the antitrust enforcement efforts of the DOJ and FTC were "reinvigorated" during the first seven years of the Obama Administration (numbers for FY2016 not available) when compared to the same period during the preceding Bush-43 Administration.

Number of Antitrust Enforcement Transactions Initiated/Number Pursued (Additional Information and/or Documentary Material Requested - "Second Requests)"/Percentage of Total Investigated:

Bush 1st Year (FY2001) - 2,376/70/3.0%
Obama 1st Tear (FY2009) - 716/31/4.4%

Bush 2nd Year (FY2002) - 1,187/49/4.2%
Obama 2nd Year (FY2010) - 1,166/46/4.0%

Bush 3rd Year (FY2003) - 1,014/35/3.5%
Obama 3rd Year (FY2011) - 1,450/55/3.8%

Bush 4th Year (FY2004) - 1,428/35/2.5%
Obama 4th Year (FY2012) - 1,429/49/3.4%

Bush 5th Year (FY2005) - 1,675/50/3.0%
Obama 5th Year (FY2013) - 1,326/47/3.6%

Bush 6th Year (FY2006) - 1,768/45/2.6%
Obama 6th Year (FY2014) - 1,663/51/3.1%

Bush 7th Year (FY2007) - 2,201/63/2.9%
Obama 7th Year (FY2015) - 1,801/47/2.6%

Totals:
Under President Bush: 11,649/347/3.0%
Under President Obama: 9,551/326/3.4%

During the first seven years of the Obama Administration, the number of transactions processed as well as the number of "second requests" investigated by the DOJ and FTC (combined) were inferior to the first seven years of the Bush-43 Administration. The slight increase in percentage of antitrust investigations during the first seven years of the Obama Administration is unimpressive, given the lesser total number of transactions processed by DOJ/FTC during that period.

Based on the above limited data, it appears that the envisioned antitrust enforcement re-invigoration did not occur when compared to the previous Administration.

This promise was not fulfilled.
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