AUSTIN – The Texas Public Policy Foundation has joined forces with several influential Texas organizations to promote the Health Care Compact, an agreement between participating states that moves authority, responsibility, and control over funding for the health care system to member states. The compact seeks to engage citizens in the development of state-based health care reform.

“America’s health care crisis is not going to be solved by Washington, DC, but rather by getting those decisions out of DC and back to the states,” said TPPF Executive Director Arlene Wohlgemuth. “Decisions as personal as those involving health care should be made as close to home as possible, ideally by citizens in consultation with their physicians and without interference from the federal government.”

The Texas Public Policy Foundation originated the idea of using interstate compacts to restore the balance of power between the federal government and the states. The Health Care Compact legislation filed today in the Texas Legislature – HB 5 by Rep. Lois Kolkhorst and SB 25 by Sen. Jane Nelson – is the first application of this new approach.

The type of health care system implemented by a member state is not prescribed in the Health Care Compact, a four-page document that puts states in control of both health care regulation and federal funding within their state. States are free to implement any system they choose-from a government single-payer system to a decentralized, market-based system.

“The Health Care Compact is a governance reform, not a health care reform,” said Eric O’Keefe, Chairman of the Health Care Compact Alliance. “Most Americans are frustrated by our health care system’s flaws and dismayed about the number of people the system fails. If passed, the compact will enable greater citizen influence in the policy making process, more competition in the marketplace, and more options for health care for millions of Americans.”

A large coalition has come together to push the Health Care Compact in Texas, including the Texas Public Policy Foundation, Tea Party Patriots, Texas Conservative Coalition, Texans for Fiscal Responsibility, Americans for Prosperity, Texas Tea Party Patriots PAC, Austin Tea Party, King Street Patriots, and a growing number of other grassroots and Tea Party organizations.

Citizens generally enjoy greater access to their state lawmakers than they do to their representatives in Congress. By shifting responsibility for health care regulations to state lawmakers, the Health Care Compact makes it possible for Americans to exercise greater influence over their health care system.

“Texas’ current budget debate shows the extent to which essential state functions such as education and public safety are being crowded out by the federal government’s one-size-fits-all approach to health care,” Wohlgemuth said. “The Foundation’s research has shown that Texas can adopt an alternative that is more fiscally responsible and better meets Texans’ health care needs if we can get our tax dollars and our authority back from Washington, DC.”

Authority for compacts was established in Article I, Section 10 of the U.S. Constitution, and more than 200 such agreements are in force today. After a number of states have adopted the Health Care Compact, congressional consent will be obtained, giving state health care laws the force of federal law within their state. Control of federal funds currently spent in a member state will also be transferred to that state, effectively converting federal funding into a permanent block grant.

The Honorable Arlene Wohlgemuth is the Executive Director and Director of the Center for Health Care Policy at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a non-profit, free-market research institute based in Austin. She served 10 years in the Texas House of Representatives, specializing in health care issues.

The Health Care Compact Alliance is a non-partisan section 501(c)(4) organization providing tools that enable citizens to exert greater control over their government. The Health Care Compact was developed to offer Americans more influence over decisions that govern health care.

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