Texas became the most recent state to support returning authority over health care to the states on July 18, with the passage of Senate Bill 7. The measure, as Karen Brooks reports for Reuters, ???would eventually allow Texas to enter into a ???health care compact??? with other states to seek flexibility in operating Medicaid and Medicare.???
Legislation that passes both the Texas House and Senate does not require a governor???s signature to become law. Gov. Rick Perry nonetheless signed the legislation to show his support for a cause that is gaining strength in other states. Should Perry seek the Republican presidential nomination, as he is expected to do, the drive to allow states to assume full control over health care could become a national issue.
In signing the bill, Perry called health care compacts ???a significant way for us to minimize the effects of the coming catastrophe??? that will result from the fill implementation of President Obama???s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, considered too costly by many states. Oklahoma, Georgia, and Missouri have already passed health care compact legislation.
Returning Authority to the People
By passing the legislation, sponsored in the Texas House by Rep. Lois Kolkhorst, the Lone Star State ???has taken a big step toward addressing the fundamental problem with health care policy: a failure governance system,??? Leo Linbeck III, the Health Care Compact Alliance???s vice chairman, said. ???Rather than forcing Texans to comply with a one-size-fits-all system designed by federal politicians and Washington bureaucrats, the Health Care Compact brings those decisions back to Texas. Americans want self-governance, especially in health care.???
Lower Cost and Greater Flexibility
Under the plan supported by Perry, Kolkhorst, Linbeck, and thousands of other Americans, states could adopt their own health care programs, individually or as members of compacts. They would enjoy greater flexibility, for example, over the administration of Medicare and Medicaid by receiving federal contributions in the form of block grants.
To check on the status of Health Care Compacts anywhere in the U.S., click on the state you are curious about on this convenient map. In Michigan, for example, HB4693 was introduced on May 26, 2011, and was filed in the Michigan House on June 1. Tom McMillin is the bill’s sponsor.
The Michigan state page, like most of the state pages, tells citizens how to get involved in helping to implement the Health Care Compact. Visitors are encouraged to subscribe to email updates and “Like” the organization on Facebook. The recommendations include,
“Contact your state legislator to indicate your support for the Health Care Compact and request that your legislator sponsor a bill (if one has not been introduced yet) or support a bill if one has been introduced.”
The U.S. government’s “Contact Elected Officials” website helps citizens to connect with their state legislators, and, of course, each state government maintains its own website too.
Contacting the Congress is a great resource for finding senators and representatives, as well as the composition of various committees in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, the current Congressional leadership, Congressional calendars, and more. For more demanding research tasks, there is a “power search” capability. Webmaster Juan Cabanela says,
“I hope you can use this information to counter-act some of the idiocy going on in Washington, whatever you consider ‘idiocy’ to be. Keep in mind that every fax or voice call is interpreted by your congressmember as equal to the opinion of many more constituents who don’t call. You can make a difference!”
Source: “Perry signs bill allowing Texas healthcare ‘compact,’” Reuters, 07/18/11
Source: “Health Care Compact Signed Into Law In Texas,” HealthCareCompact.org, 07/18/11
Image: “Click on a State,” used with permission.
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Pat Hartman is a veteran editor, investigative journalist, and freelance writer. A longtime member of The Libertarian Connection, Pat is the former editor of SALON, where she edited such writers as Walter Block, Richard Kostelanetz, and L. Neil Smith.
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