WASHINGTON — Rep. James Lankford began a long-shot effort Tuesday to gain congressional approval of an agreement among Oklahoma and several other states to control their own health care systems.
Lankford, R-Oklahoma City, introduced a bill seeking consent of the Health Care Compact, which has been joined by eight states and is being considered by 12 others.
“The compact transfers health care decision-making authority and responsibility from the federal level to member states,” Lankford said.
“Those member states are then free to implement their own health care systems without interference from federal bureaucrats, using federal health care funds already collected and spent in their state.”
Congress must approve state compacts; even if the House were to approve the compact, the Democratic-controlled Senate and President Barack Obama would oppose it.
The compact would affect Medicare, Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act, though not the Indian Health Service or Defense Department programs such as Tricare.
Gov. Mary Fallin signed legislation in 2011 to join the compact.
At the time, state Rep. Scott Inman, D-Del City, called the bill “the biggest fairy tale I have ever seen.”
“It's a feel-good piece of legislation ... so we can thumb our nose at Washington,” Inman said then.
Georgia, Alabama, Indiana, Missouri, South Carolina, Texas and Utah have joined the compact, an initiative of a group called the Health Care Compact Alliance, a private nonprofit organization that does not disclose its financial backers.
The Republican-controlled House has voted more than 40 times in the past three years to repeal or replace parts of Obamacare, but most of those efforts have died in the Senate.
“States that like their Obamacare can keep their Obamacare,” Lankford said. “The Health Care Compact simply gives a state like Oklahoma the option to create a customized system that better meets the needs of Oklahoma families.”