Healthcare compact gains momentum with Texas and Missouri
Austin, TX: Yesterday, Texas Governor Rick Perry signed the health care compact bill into law, making Texas the fourth state to join the compact. Although legislation in Texas that has passed both houses does not need the signature of the governor in order to become law, Perry uses his signature as an extra endorsement of the work of the legislature on certain key issues. Health care is certainly one.
The health care compact transfers the responsibility and authority for regulating health care from the federal government to the individual member states. The introduction of this legislation is largely in response to President Obama's controversial Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). While the compact does not directly attempt to repeal the act, it effectively creates a "regulatory shield" for member states, rendering regulations contained in the Affordable Care Act ineffective in member states. The is intended to give member states primary responsibility for health care regulation, to ensure that relevant state laws supersede conflicting federal laws and regulations and to secure federal funding for states that choose to invoke their authority under the compact.
The language of the compact legislation is intentionally vague, allowing each member state to design health care programs to meet its particular needs. Governor Perry recognizes "Texas faces unique challenges when it comes to health care delivery," and highlighted the savings, innovation, and improved health care he expects the legislation will spur. State Representative Lois Kolkhorst, the bill's sponsor in the state house, echoed Perry's sentiment, noting "Texans need a bigger say in how our health dollars are spent."
In Missouri, Governor Jay Nixon allowed similar legislation to pass into law last Thursday. Like Perry, he views the compact as a way to ensure that every health care dollar is spent wisely and that everyone in his state has "access to quality, affordable medical care," and reassured his constituents that "such flexibility can't be at the expense of limiting access to health care funding."
With the addition of these two states - and of Texas, in particular - support for the health care compact has gained tremendous momentum. Eric O'Keefe, of the Healthcare Compact Alliance, a 501(c)(4) organization advocating for the adoption of the compact, lauded the actions of the governors and legislatures in both states for "taking the decision making power about health care out of the hands of Washington special interests and putting it back in the hands of the people." He is hopeful that other states will soon follow suit, noting that a legislative override of Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer's veto of the compact is a strong possiblity.
- Healthcare Compact wants states, not feds, to handle health care
- Healthcare Compact
- Interstate compact
- Healthcare.gov, "Understanding the Affordable Care Act," May 5, 2011
- Healthcare Compact.org, "The Healthcare Compact (4)," May 5, 2011
- Texas Healthcare Report.org, "Gov. Rick Perry signs health care reform bill into law; Texas fourth state to pass health care compacts bill," July 18, 2011
- KC Monitor.com, "Missouri joins state rejecting Obamacare," July 18, 2011
- CapitolBeatOK.com, "Missouri becomes third health care compact state, joining Oklahoma and Georgia," July 15, 2011