Oklahoma has become the second state to sign the Health Care Compact into law according to a press release from the Health Care Compact Alliance. Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin signed the bill into law on May 18. Georgia became the first state to enact the Health Care Compact on April 20 when Governor Nathan Deal signed Georgia’s version of the compact.
|Protesters displeased with Obamacare (Marc Nozell)|
The interstate compact would supersede federal health care laws and allow states to enact their own laws on the subject when it becomes effective. Under the terms of the compact, now that two states have passed the compact legislation, the Health Care Compact will become effective when Congress gives its consent.
The compact legislation can now be introduced to Congress, but its chances of passage are unclear. The Republican-dominated House of Representatives would be likely to give its consent, but passage through the Democratic-controlled Senate is far less certain. According to Leo Linbeck III, vice chairman of the Health Care Compact Alliance, it is not clear whether the congressional consent would be subject to a presidential veto.
In an email Mr. Linbeck also confirmed that member states of the compact would be free to enact whatever health care legislation they chose. “Health care policy is about who and what is covered,” Mr. Linbeck said. “The Health Care Compact is about who decides.”
The compact would restore the states as “laboratories of democracy” that can experiment with various solutions to the health care problem. Linbeck continued, “Some states may be attracted to a more regulated system built around accountable care organizations. Other states may decide to implement a single-payer system. Still others may create a consumer-oriented, market-based regime. And some may choose to experiment with hybrid systems.”
|Gov. Mary Fallin|
Mr. Linbeck also responded to criticism from UCLA law professor Adam Winkler that the Health Care Compact is a tacit admission that Congress has the authority to regulate health care because congressional consent is required for interstate compacts only when the subject matter is “appropriate for congressional legislation.”
“This is an interesting question only to lawyers,” Mr. Linbeck answered. “As a very practical matter, the feds have the power right now to regulate health insurance, and effectively do through [Medicare and Medicaid] and ERISA (for big corporations). They have not fully exercised that power, and the litigation against [the Affordable Care Act] is currently focused on the individual mandate, not the health exchanges that will effectively regulate the currently state-regulated part of the private health insurance system. The courts and lawyers can't fix health care; only the people and the politicians can do that.”
According to the press release, the Health Care Compact has been introduced into fourteen states. Not including Georgia and Oklahoma where it has already become law, the compact has passed the House of Representatives in Montana, Missouri, Colorado, Arizona and Texas. It has also passed the Senate in Arizona and Missouri. It is being considered by legislators and citizen groups in a total of thirty-six states.
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