Oklahoma becomes second state to join health care compact

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May 19, 2011

Portal:Interstate Compacts

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK: Governor Mary Fallin signed Senate Bill 722 into law yesterday, making Oklahoma the second state to join an interstate compact that allows states to assert more control over their health care systems.[1] Georgia Governor Nathan Deal approved a similar version of the Health Care Compact on April 20.

The health care compact is designed to transfer the responsibility and authority for regulating health care from the federal government to the members states, and the passage of Oklahoma's bill has renewed interest in the health care compact debate. Advocates contend that health care is too complex to manage at the federal level, and that states will be more efficient in the regulation and oversight of their health care systems,[2] while opponents argue the compact reinforces the state-by-state differences in access to quality and affordable health care under the current system.[3][4]

The language of the compact legislation is intentionally vague, allowing each member state to design health care programs to meet its particular needs. Governor Deal argues that this flexibility allows compact member states to find "creative, free-market solutions to... health care challenges."[5] Bob Semro of the Bell Policy Center takes an opposite view, charging that compact legislation "only provides an ideological statement about government reform."[6]

Comparable measures have been introduced in the legislatures of nine other states, three of which passed both houses in the general assembly and went on to the governor for final approval. Governors Jan Brewer (Arizona) and Brian Schweitzer (Montana) vetoed the bills that came across their desks, as Missouri awaits a decision on its bill from Governor Jay Nixon.

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