Embedded in the first Article of the Constitution is a treasure that may help solve the crisis of undue regulations forced upon the states by the federal government — including Obamacare. It is found in Article I Section 10 Clause 3. It is called the Compact Clause.
No State shall, without the Consent of Congress, lay any Duty of Tonnage, keep Troops, or Ships of War in time of Peace, enter into any Agreement or Compact with another State, or with a foreign Power, or engage in War, unless actually invaded, or in such imminent Danger as will not admit of delay.
What this means is that compacts may be made between the states. Such compacts must, however, have approval of the Congress. The definition of such Congressional approval is vague. Julia Shaw, Research Associate and Program Manager at the B. Kenneth Simon Center for American Studies, The Heritage Foundation states:
Though the Compacts Clause makes clear that forming compacts is prohibited without the consent of Congress, it is not clear what form that consent must take. Does it require a law be passed and signed by the president? Or can Congress accomplish it without presentment? Nor does the clause specify whether Congress must consent prior to the formation of the compact.
Though originally this clause referred to prohibitions upon the states regarding keeping troops, engaging in taxation, negotiating with foreign powers or engaging in war (“unless actually invaded or in imminent danger as will not admit delay” — an interesting loop hole for states that are federally unprotected from border invasions) this clause, post 1921, has been used for other unrelated compacts between the states.
Currently there are over 200 active interstate compacts covering areas such as: diverse water rights, transportation of criminals, education to minor dependents of active military, driver licenses, and life insurance. And now, thanks to the folks who have masterminded the Health Care Compact, such as Leo Linbeck III, there is an opportunity for a compact between the states that will effectively and Constitutionally deal with Obamacare in a non-partisan, practical manner.
The inordinate amount of federal regulations under Obamacare is at a crisis level — crushing health care in America. The Health Care Compact has a plan to remedy it:
1. It allows, but does not require, member states to suspend federal health care regulations in their state.
2. It converts federal health care spending into a fixed, mandatory transfer to member states that is indexed for changes in population and inflation, and is only to be spent on health care.
It gives control over health care funding and regulation to the states who are a members of the compact — like a permanent waiver and block grant for health care.
Replacing Obamacare should not be partisan. The Democrat’s Obamacare verses the Republican Repeal and Replace will only lead to gridlock and discord. Give it back to the states. Let the states make a compact with themselves and make their own decisions. If they like their Obamacare they can keep their Obamacare. That’s the ingenious aspect of the Health Care Compact — it gives each state the opportunity to stay in Obamacare or not.
The political advantage of the HCC is that it’s about the health care governance, not health care policy. It pushes policy questions to the state level. Allowing blue states (e.g. VT and MA) to pursue progressive policies, while allowing red states, (e.g. TX and UT) to pursue conservative policies.
Currently nine states have joined the Health Care Compact: Georgia, Texas, Missouri, South Carolina, Oklahoma, Utah, Indiana, Kansas and Alabama. The next step to get more states on board and then for the compact to get Congressional approval. Article 1 Section 10 Clause 3 is ambiguous as to if the President has to sign the resolution or not. The Health Care Compact, however, would seek Presidential approval.
The Health Care Compact resolution, H J Res 50, has been introduced in the House with eleven co-sponsors. It has not yet left the committee process. It has not been introduced into the Senate.
This is where the Republican process comes into play — the opportunity for the people to exercise first amendment rights: petition, assemble and speak out. If you are unhappy with Obamacare and your current health care situation now you can take an action — an action that is not partisan but practical. Give it back to the states constitutionally through a compact of the states which is approved by Congress. This is, after all, the true intent of the Constitution — a proper balance between the states and the federal government.
Call your representatives in the House and the Senate. Ask them to endorse the Health Care Compact. You can also join Leo Linbeck III and me for a Google Hang-Out — the modern day “assembly” — on Wednesday, Oct. 28, at 7 p.m. ET to ask questions and learn more.
• Janine Turner is an actress, author, and founder and co-chair of Constituting America.