U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham and Jim DeMint joined South Carolina House Speaker Bobby Harrell on a conference call with reporters Wednesday to discuss what they say is the heavy financial burden the Obama health care plan will place on states like South Carolina. They want the state’s General Assembly to oppose the plan.
The Republicans say under the health care bill, South Carolina will add another 483,000 individuals to the Medicaid rolls, a 61 percent increase. All told, 28 percent of South Carolina residents will be on Medicaid and the state will incur over $900 million in new costs over the next ten years.
Instead of Medicaid, Graham wants everyone to be able to buy an insurance policy through the tax code. He says Medicaid expansion is not a good idea. Graham says he is in favor of health care reform, but characterizes the current plan’s passage as a way to boost the president.
The office of Democratic Congressman Jim Clyburn points out that under the new law, states will receive a 100 percent match from 2014-2016 for the newly eligible individuals. There will be federal funding for 95 percent of the costs in 2017, 94 percent in 2018, 93 percent in 2019, and 90 percent thereafter. Clyburn says that level of federal match is unprecedented, since the state currently pays 30 percent of the cost of Medicaid recipients.
Clyburn says that the health care plan will be revisited several times over the next five years, and in time, the $900 million cost may go away. Demint says he finds that very hard to believe.
I’m afraid Representative Clyburn is just dreaming. It’s going to hurt in so many areas. And you’re going to see doctors who start to turn away Medicare and Medicaid patients.
South Carolina House Speaker Bobby Harrell says there was a plan in the South Carolina House last year that attempted to provide insurance coverage to the uninsured through the private sector. But he says the plan from the White House is very different.
When it’s done on the Washington level, it’s done with borrowed money. When it’s done at the state level, we have to balance the budget under our state constitution. But to do it on the national level on borrowed money cutting out the private sector makes me nervous for my children and grandchildren, when they have to pick up the bill for all of this, and end up with a less efficient system.
A press release from Jim Clyburn said, “I see this as another attempt to scare people into believing that ‘the sky is falling.’ We have seen scare tactics used time and again in this country to gin up opposition to major changes like integrating schools or enacting Social Security or Medicare.”
In the release, Clyburn said:
Medicaid coverage for our fellow citizens will save our health care delivery system millions of dollars annually. We are moving these people out of the emergency rooms and into primary care facilities. This will decrease the strain on our hospitals and lead to better preventative care to keep people healthy. Giving people access to health services lowers costs in the long run, and bends the cost curve. All of us who have insurance are paying the health care bill for our fellow citizens who don’t have insurance. They get their primary care through emergency rooms, and their hospitalizations are paid for by providers shifting the costs to the insured. This uncompensated care was one of the reasons why our health premiums doubled over the past ten years and are currently spiraling out of control.
Congressman Joe Wilson is also opposing the plan, along with other Republicans. He has crafted legislation to repeal and replace the bill. He told WVOC Radio in Columbia, saying that the measure will hurt small businesses. Wilson calls his Siding With American Patients Act “SWAP” for short.
(Wilson on Health Care Act and his new bill MP3 1:20)
Wilson on Health Care Act and his new bill
Meanwhile, Attorneys General of 14 states including South Carolina have filed suit against the plan.