Lankford Introduces Legislation Giving Congressional Authority to Interstate Health Care Compact

In February, Rep. James Lankford (R-OK) introduced legislation (H.J.Res.110) that would give congressional approval to states entering the Health Care Compact. This is an important step forward for one of the most innovative ideas that has been developed to reduce federal interference in regulating health markets. As Lankford notes in a recent Forbes op-ed, eight state legislatures have already voted to join the Compact.

Priceless, John Goodman’s book on how to cure the healthcare crisis, champions federal tax reform that would give every legal resident of working age or younger a refundable tax credit to buy the health insurance of his or her choice in a lightly regulated market. This raises the questions: Who regulates this market? What happens when a person or family moves from one state to another? How can they keep the same policy?

One answer is to continue to allow Congress to have a hand in regulating health insurance. But that is a major cause of the current malfunction. Another approach is to allow states to figure this out on their own. This is how other lines of insurance are regulated, and there is no crisis of access to life insurance or auto insurance when people change jobs or move to a new state. As I wrote in a previous blog entry, there already is an interstate compact for other lines of insurance, and it works fine:

The Compact established a multi-state public entity, the Interstate Insurance Product Regulation Commission (IIPRC) which serves as an instrumentality of the Member States. The IIPRC serves as a central point of electronic filing for certain insurance products, including life insurance, annuities, disability income and long-term care insurance to develop uniform product standards, affording a high level of protection to purchasers of asset protection insurance products.

All the congressional Republican alternative health-reform bills recognize that regulating access to health care and health insurance from Washington, DC, is a bureaucratic disaster. Adding congressional recognition of a Health Care Compact is an important new development in the evolution of post-Obamacare health reform.

John R. Graham is a former Senior Fellow at the Independent Institute.
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