Governor Nikki Haley has decided not to apply for millions in federal money to set up a health insurance exchange in the state because she says the state can’t afford it and doesn’t want it.
South Carolina Department of Health and Human Service Director Tony Keck says the state will study ways to form its own exchanges, because the rules for using the federal money are unclear.
Insurance exchanges are designed so the uninsured can compare policies from private companies and purchase the one best for their needs and budget. Democrats say Haley, an outspoken critic of the federal healthcare law, is playing politics with an issue that affects thousands in the state. Orangeburg legislator Brad Hutto wondered why the state would not accept funds from a pool of revenue that includes state taxpayers’ money.
According to a 2004 state Department of Insurance survey, about 21 percent of South Carolinians under age 65 are not insured. A new study is currently being conducted.
Hutto says the funds will end up going to other states, while South Carolinians who need help securing healthcare will continue to go without coverage. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says 16 states and Washington D.C. have so far accepted the federal funds.