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Springfield legislator's health care compact passes House

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A bill sponsored by Springfield Rep. Eric Burlison that would give states authority over federal health care reforms passed the Missouri House of Representatives 105-52 on March 31.

Burlison, a Republican, introduced House Bill 423 last month to pave the way for Missouri to join several states in discussions about interstate health care compacts to develop policies that would trump federal laws – specifically, in Burlison’s plan, overturning the health insurance mandate.

“This is true government reform and a way to allow state legislatures to develop effective health care policy. I believe state legislatures should make these decisions because they are much more attuned to the needs of their constituents,” Burlison said in a news release, pointing to Missourians’ 71 percent approval in August of the Health Care Freedom Act, which allows citizens to opt out of the federal health care plan.

“Voters have made it clear they don’t want the federal government making these highly important and highly personal decisions,” Burlison added.

HB 423 now awaits a first-reading in the Senate.

With congressional approval, compacts give participating states the authority to regulate certain issues, with state laws superseding previous and future related laws passed by Congress. Burlison has said there are currently dozens of compacts in existence between Missouri and other states.

One is a nursing compact that allows nurses who are licensed in other states to practice in Missouri during emergencies, according to Burlison, while another – the International Fuel Tax Agreement – is an interstate commerce agreement for the trucking industry.

State Rep. Sara Lampe, D-Springfield, has said the health care compact bill stands little chance of approval by fellow Democrats.

Burlison’s bill would give states access to federal funds set aside for health care and create the Interstate Advisory Health Care Commission to study the impact of reforms on compact member states, according to the bill.

After learning about interstate health care compacts in a December meeting of the American Legislative Exchange Council, Burlison has advanced the bill quickly, holding a press conference in February at the state Capitol, and he was a lead source for a Feb. 27 Washington Times article, “State compacts on health care eyed as end run around Obama.”
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