South Carolina state legislators are being pressured to turn on Governor Nikki Haley and accept the Medicaid expansion under Obamacare. On Tuesday healthcare advocates will begin applying this pressure and a public forum.
The advocacy groups will stage a news conference at 10 a.m. the State House, a coalition-building and training meeting from noon-3 p.m. at the Clarion Hotel Downtown and a public forum at 6 p.m. at the USC School of Law. Robert Greenwald, director of the Harvard Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation, will be the featured speaker at the training session.
Bambi Gaddist, executive director of the S.C. HIV/AIDS Council, helped put together the events designed to spread the word about what the ACA means to state residents. She also hopes to turn up the volume in the discussion about Medicaid expansion before the state Legislature convenes in January.
“South Carolina leadership must take steps to educate citizens about the new federal law because it will change how we gain access to health care for years to come,” Gaddist said. “This community forum is needed to make sure South Carolinians get information first hand from the leading health authorities in the state and nation.
“Simply stated, no South Carolinian can afford to just stay home. Whether young or old, insured or uninsured, everyone should come out and learn how health care reform will impact them and their families.”
According to Gov. Haley's Facebook post of July 1, 2012, she said:
"South Carolina will NOT expand Medicaid, or participate in any health exchanges. We will not support Pres. Obama's tax increase or job killing agenda."
Both Haley and her director of the state's Department of Health and Human Services Tony Keck, “see Medicaid as a broken program that stifles innovation, discourages personal responsibility, and encourages fraud."
Under Obamacare, states may expand their Medicaid programs in order to cover adults who earn less than 138% of the federal poverty level, about $15,000 for an individual.
According to Mr. Keck, for South Carolina to cave to the Medicaid expansion would increase South Carolina's share of the program by nearly $1.7 billion by 2020.
Medicaid and Medicare are two of the biggest drains of money on taxpayers. Adovcacy groups such as AARP, The United Way, and the March of Dimes claims that if South Carolina rejects the expansion, it could be potentially giving up $3 billion in federal money.
Now just stop and think about that. If we save the money, and all states would follow suit, that $3 billion doesn't first come from Washington. It was first confiscated from state residents. Washington is just returning a portion of what they took. My hope is that Governor Haley and Director Heck will stand strong under the assault they are about to face.