The U.S. Department of Justice has stepped into the battle over health care, giving ammunition to congressional Democrats who want to shake up the health insurance market.

The department made its foray Wednesday during a Senate hearing about the federal antitrust exemption that health insurers have enjoyed for more than 60 years. Democrats say a repeal of that exemption would help consumers by allowing the Justice Department to police potentially anti-competitive practices, such as market allocation and bid rigging, that are currently left up to state insurance regulators. And the department suggested Wednesday that it generally agrees.

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