I’ve posted often this year about H.R. 5, the “HEALTH Act,” which would pre-empt state health care laws and civil suits against doctors, hospitals, drug and device companies, insurance companies, and nursing homes. Just look at the archives: senior Republican Congressmen, a top Constitutional scholar, state legislators, and the coordinator of the Tea Party Patriots all say that the Constitution bars Congress from enacting federal tort reform, including the most sweeping health care-related preemption bill ever.
Now the Tea Party Patriots are fighting for the “Health Care Compact” as a way for states to take control of health care policy, instead of watching ObamaCare’s sweeping over-regulation. An e-mail from the TPP coordinators describe it this way:
The Health Care Compact is simply an interstate compact. Interstate compacts are essentially contracts between states, that, when approved by Congress, supersede federal law. Interstate compacts have been around since before the Constitution was written, and our Founding Fathers thought so highly of them that they included them in the Constitution (Article 1, Section 10), knowing that our states might someday need a mechanism to band together and take power back from the federal government.
There are over 200 interstate compacts in existence today, allowing states to regulate everything from selling life insurance across state lines to recognizing out-of-state drivers licenses.If an interstate compact imposes on existing federal law, the compact needs to be approved by Congress in an up-or-down vote. Congress is not allowed to amend the compact in any way; they can only vote yes or no.It is unclear at this time whether or not compacts require the President’s signature; however, we fully intend to draw a line in the sand and force President Obama to publicly pick a side, just in time for the 2012 elections.
The HCC gives the member states the power to reject every, single, unconstitutional page. The HCC simply states that member states are free from federal health care regulations, if they so choose. Very basically, it allows states to receive health care funding with zero strings attached. No more costly, intrusive, and unconstitutional mandates.
Notice the difference between H.R. 5 and the HCC in the handling of health care-related civil litigation. The former takes over those lawsuits from the states having no lawsuit limits, and it imposes damage caps from the federal level down. The HCC keeps Washington from assuming that power and reserves regulation of the civil justice system for the states, with no specific mandate limiting the right to a jury trial for civil suits. While H.R. 5 preempts state law, the text of the HCC explicitly condemns preemption and stresses states’ rights and the protection of individual liberty. H.R. 5 mandates a federal wage scale for attorneys who represent victims of health care negligence, while the HCC doesn’t attempt to impose such an un-American idea. It’s inherently pro-7th Amendment and pro-10th Amendment.
But note one special sentence in TPP’s description – something that could kill the HCC this year: If an interstate compact imposes on existing federal law, the compact needs to be approved by Congress in an up-or-down vote. So if Congress enacts H.R. 5 before the HCC is approved by two or more states, the states would have to fight tooth and nail for Congress to approve the HCC over H.R. 5, and I think that’s impossible politically. If the GOP leadership just moves H.R. 5 through the House alone, it will kill any backing by mainstream Republicans for the HCC.
The Tea Party Patriots and other backers of the Health Care Compact better recognize how quickly they could be pushed off the cliff by the forces of “Big Medicine” pushing for H.R. 5. They and their Congressional allies must tell House GOP leadership that H.R. 5 is inconsistent with the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.