in Houston, Texas
Health care compacts bill passes Texas House, Kolkhorst considers Senate strategy
Wednesday, Jun 15, 2011, 04:26PM CST
By Mark Lisheron

The House, as it did in the regular session, passed a bill that would allow Texas to enter into a compact with other states to shape its own health care system.

Rep. Lois Kolkhorst’s stand-alone House Bill 5 moved to the Senate on a 97-43 vote, joining an identical draft of the bill amended to Senate Bill 7, a much broader health reform bill. SB 7 is currently in a conference committee.

Kolkhorst, R-Brenham, has not decided which strategy gives the health compacts bill the best chance to pass in the Senate, Chris Steinbach, her chief of staff, said a few minutes ago.

Both HB 5 and SB 7 stalled in the Senate during the regular session, only to be revived at the request of Gov. Rick Perry.

The House passed the bill Wednesday afternoon, along party lines, after agreeing to an amendment that would insure that any compact agreed to by the state would not reduce Medicare benefits to seniors.

Several of the Democrats who voted against the bill this afternoon, including Garnet Coleman, D-Houston, expressed concerns that a compact would gut the Medicare entitlement for seniors.

Coleman went further. “This bill is designed to unwind the health care system,” he said.

Compacts bills, which have been passed in Oklahoma and Georgia, are a direct challenge to the authority the federal government holds over health care systems in the states. Seniors and everyone else covered under Medicare and Medicaid in Texas would be better off with state control of the programs, Kolkhorst has argued.
Contact Mark Lisheron at 512-299-2318 or or on Twitter at @marktxwatchdog.

Follow Texas Health Care Report on Twitter, and fan us on Facebook. Texas Health Care Report is a project of Texas Watchdog.

Photo of Texas state Capitol dome by flickr user victorfe places, used via a Creative Commons license.
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