Health care compact passes Oklahoma House, moves back to Senate

 Senate Bill 722, the health care compact measure pressed by state Sen. Clark Jolley of Edmond, cleared the state House of Representatives on Wednesday (April 28). It now returns to the state Senate for final consideration.

Senate Bill 722, co-sponsored by Sen. Jolley and state Rep. Glen Mulready of Tulsa first advanced from the Senate on March 15, in a 33-11 vote.
Rep. Mulready amended the proposal on the House side, where the proposal gained comfortable 66-28 approval yesterday. Sen. Jolley told CapitolBeatOK he anticipated accepting his fellow Republican’s revisions, then going about the work of guiding it through the Senate again.

In yesterday’s vote, a group of Republicans who have been opposing conservative policies backed the measure on the merits, but joined efforts to deprive it of the super-majority needed to take effect quickly with an “emergency” clause.

The national group advocating for health care compacts summarized the bill in a release sent to CapitolBeatOK.

S.B. 722 lays the basis for Oklahoma’s participating in “an agreement between participating states that restores authority and responsibility for health care regulation to member states. … The compact would allow Oklahoma to create … health care policies by joining an interstate compact that supersedes prior federal law. The Compact, which has been introduced in 14 states, was signed into law in Georgia last week.”

The concept is also advancing in Missouri, where a compact proposal cleared the state Senate and headed to Governor Jay Nixon.
“Passage of the Health Care Compact in Oklahoma changes who will decide the future of health care for Oklahomans,” said Eric O’Keefe, Chairman of the Health Care Compact Alliance which issued a rapid statement praising the House action.

O’Keefe said, in a statement sent to CapitolBeatOK, “The Health Care Compact moves responsibility for health care from Washington, D.C. to Oklahoma, where we expect a robust conversation among citizens and their local representatives to unfold and result in reforms that meet the needs of all Oklahomans.”

Having passed in Georgia, compact proposals are alive – besides in Oklahoma and Missouri — in Montana, Colorado, Arizona, and Texas. Further, O’Keefe’s alliance says that in more than 36 states, citizen groups and state legislators are actively pressing for health care compacts.

“Our health care system is too large and too complex to manage at the federal level — and too important to be debated outside the earshot of citizens. That is why … passage in Oklahoma is one step closer to allowing citizens to engage in the policy process at their state level, and to prescribe laws that match the needs of their communities,” said O’Keefe.

The non-partisan alliance describes itself as “dedicated to providing Americans more influence over decisions that govern their health care.”

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.”