by Sen. Jeff Kruse (R-Roseburg)
In 2009 the Legislature passed House Bill 2009, which created a new agency (the Oregon Health Authority) and gave them a whole lot of power. We just received an opinion from our legislative council on what OHA could do without any new legislation. The answer is, pretty much anything they wanted.
Based on my last newsletter many have asked why we should be doing anything in health care based on the challenge in federal court to the Affordable Health Care Act. The short answer is, until the US Supreme Court hears the case (which will be no time soon), it is thelaw of the land. A longer answer is that a whole lot of federal laws enacted over the years, in my opinion, are unconstitutional. We have seen in these other areas the Supreme Court grant federal authority based on the Commerce Clause. I think the Court has been wrong on these issues. Unfortunately it is the Courts opinion that has the force of law and their history of decisions makes a potential overturn unlikely.
The choice this leaves us with is to either accept what the federal government dictates or create something different and advocate for the acceptance of the alternative. If we have to go down this road I would prefer it be under our control.
But an even bigger issue is what could happen in Oregon regardless of federal intervention. In 2009 the Legislature passed House Bill 2009, which created a new agency (the Oregon Health Authority) and gave them a whole lot of power. We just received an opinion from our legislative council (the lawyers who actually write the laws) on what OHA could do without any new legislation. The answer is, pretty much anything they wanted. Part of the reason for trying to pass some of these bills is to slow them down and proceed in a more deliberative way.
At the beginning of this Session most of the OHA bills said, in essence, “we are not sure what we are going to do but we want you to give us the authority to do it”. Our response has been “tell us what you want to do and, if we like it, we might give you the authority”. Last Session too much power was ceded to the executive branch and we are making an attempt to take some of it back. As the elected representatives of the people we feel we should be making these decisions, not some non-elected agency people.
There are some in the Legislature who would like to see Oregon become the first state to implement the federal Act. I am not one of them. I think the Act violates the Constitution from both the perspective of personal freedom as well as state’s rights. Our health care system needs a significant overhaul, but the federal Act is not the answer.
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