Patrick B. McGuigan
Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin this week signed into law Senate Bill 722, historic legislation authorizing creation of a health care compact with other states. She said the compact will allow flexibility “to design and implement” health care programs that meet the needs of citizens.
Oklahoma joins the state of Georgia in creating state-level mechanisms to forge agreements between and among states, with the objective of restoring responsibility (and authority) for regulation to the state level. Other states are seriously studying the compact approach to policy.
In response to question from CapitolBeatOK, Governor Fallin said today (Thursday, May 19), “The federal government should give states more flexibility to design and implement health care programs to fit the specific needs of their citizens.”
Fallin, who earlier this session rejected state involvement with the federal health exchange, told CapitolBeatOK, “Oklahoma is joining the Health Care Compact Alliance with the goal of gaining the flexibility to implement a program that meets our state’s specific health care needs without onerous unfunded mandates from Washington.”
The governor signed the bill, which made it through the Legislature last week, on Wednesday.
National praise for Governor Fallin and the Oklahoma Legislature came from the Health Care Compact Alliance and chairman Eric O’Keefe.
In comments to CapitolBeatOK, O’Keefe said, “Oklahoma's Governor Fallin joined the Oklahoma legislature in taking a bold step to give the people of Oklahoma control of their health care future. By acting to move authority and responsibility for health care from Washington, D.C. to Oklahoma, Governor Fallin will help to trigger a robust conversation among citizens and their local representatives about sustainable reforms that meet the needs of all Oklahomans.”
O’Keefe commented further, "Oklahoma's leaders have acted to escape the mandates handed down from a centralized bureaucracy in Washington which threatens to bankrupt the country while rationing health care. The Health Care Compact Alliance congratulates Governor Mary Fallin as well as all of the sponsoring legislators."
Sponsors of the compact in Oklahoma were state Sen. Clark Jolley of Edmond and State Rep. Glen Mulready of Tulsa, both Republicans.
Jolley had to “work” the issue in the final stages of legislative debate.
After gaining initial 33-11 consent, the measure went to the House. Mulready amended the measure and secured passage, 66-28.
In the final go-round last week, Jolley secured a 25-20 majority, sending the bill to the chief executive.
Commissioner of Insurance John Doak endorsed the compact early in the legislative process.
Fourteen states have studied the compact approach. Besides Oklahoma and Georgia, compact bills have cleared the state Houses in Montana, Missouri, Colorado, Arizona, and Texas; measures have passed through the Senates in Arizona and Missouri. O’Keefe’s group told CapitolBeatOK citizen activists and legislators are working on the health care compact in more than 36 states.
The Health Care Compact Alliance describes itself as “a nonpartisan organization dedicated to providing Americans more influence over decisions that govern their health care.” O’Keefe’s group says the systems intended to be created within a compact are not prescribed. Rather, “Who and what is covered as well as the level of regulation are determined by each state after the compact is ratified.”
The Alliance reports, “Interstate compacts have been used throughout U.S. history to allow states to coordinate in important policy areas. Authority for compacts was established in the Constitution (Article I, Section 10), and more than 200 such agreements are currently in effect. They are voluntary agreements between states that, when consented to by Congress, have the force of federal law.”