Published on June 29, 2012
By SEANNA ADCOX, Associated Press
COLUMBIA — South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley said Thursday the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the federal health care law represents a huge tax increase that will kill jobs.
“This decision concludes one thing and one thing only for me, and that is we need to have new leadership in Washington. We cannot continue to go down this path. We cannot continue to be dictated to on what kind of health care we need,” the Republican governor said outside her office. “We’ve got a president who continues to want to put tax hikes on the American people.”
Haley endorsed Mitt Romney before South Carolina’s presidential primary in January and campaigned for him inside and outside the state.
She repeated her stance that the law should be repealed under a new administration.
The high court limited the law’s plan to expand the Medicaid insurance program for the poor, making it an option.
Tony Keck, director of the state’s Medicaid agency, said that becomes a debate for legislators.
Haley declined to say whether she believes the state should expand coverage, instead repeating that she favors throwing the whole thing out.
Projections that the federal law will increase South Carolina’s Medicaid rolls by 510,000 people are based on two factors. One, it is assumed the mandate that people have health care or pay a fine will prompt more of those currently eligible to enroll. It also assumes the state will expand coverage to adults earning up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level — now $30,650 for a family of four, according an estimate in January from the state Department of Health and Human Services.
That means nearly one-third of South Carolina’s population would have health insurance through Medicaid, the agency predicts.
Currently, South Carolina provides Medicaid coverage for families at 50 percent of poverty, though pregnant women can earn up to 185 percent, and children can be covered if their parents earn double the poverty level.
An advocate for the poor said everyone needs access to quality, affordable health care.
“We hope that the state will do the right thing to expand Medicaid, which will be in the best interest for all in South Carolina,” said Sue Berkowitz, director of the Appleseed Legal Justice Center.
Frank Knapp, president of the South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce, said the expansion would help small businesses because fewer employees would need to be covered by a company health care plan.
“But that fight is for tomorrow,” Knapp said. “Today marks an extraordinary day for American small businesses.”
Haley said she believes a better option would be to give states block grants for health care.
“Give us the money. Let us decide what the people of South Carolina need,” she said. “We would spend less money and be more effective.”
Also seen in the following media:
San Francisco Chronicle
Savannah Morning News