Healthcare And Jobs: Private Option Proposal To Cover South Carolina’s Uninsured


Close the Gap Coalition

Media Contact: Lauren Knottek (803) 779-1113 x104

December  9, 2015

Columbia, SC – South Carolina could see over 120,000 uninsured people covered and job growth in the tens of thousands if a private health insurance option supported by a group of nonprofits, statewide associations, business leaders is adopted.

Palmetto Plus is the name given to bi-partisan legislation introduced in the South Carolina Senate. Senate Bill 845 would create a mechanism to cover the low-income uninsured with private health insurance.

“I refuse to accept the fact that the most vulnerable in our state are being ignored. The Palmetto Plus Proposal is a winner for South Carolina. It means our citizens will have access to health care coverage and the positive impact will be historic. This is a proposal for South Carolina designed by South Carolinians,” said Lauren Knottek of South Carolina Appleseed Legal Justice Center.

Currently, over 120,000 people fall into what has been dubbed the ‘health insurance coverage gap’ – people who do not qualify for traditional Medicaid coverage, and earn too little to qualify for tax subsidies to buy insurance through the exchanges set up under the Affordable Care Act.

“Expanding Medicaid will provide coverage for hardworking people who’ve paid in all their lives but are now struggling to make ends meet,” said Teresa Arnold, AARP SC state director.

“Right now these folks are using the emergency room as their primary care provider and that’s the most expensive care. And we’re all paying for it. Getting folks insured saves us all money and gives them access to regular check-ups and health screenings,” said registered nurse and healthcare director for the South Carolina League of Women Voters, David Ball.

Modeled on Arkansas’ private option plan, the Palmetto Plus proposal would use federal Medicaid money for individuals to purchase insurance on the private market. Just like Arkansas, South Carolina would have to get a waiver from the federal government to enact it’s own way to accept Medicaid money available to states under the Affordable Care Act.

“This is like any private insurance policy most people have,” said Kara Hinkley, manager of Southeast Advocacy for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society

Arkansas and Kentucky have also experienced a positive economic impact following the adoption of their insurance plans. According to the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy, the Bluegrass State created 12,000 new jobs in 2014. By 2021, it is estimated that the average salary of the 40,000 jobs created by Medicaid expansion in Kentucky will be $41,000. Arkansas is projected to create 6,200 jobs by 2016, according to a report from the Kaiser Health News.

“The economic impact of having more South Carolinians insured and utilizing health care services means creating jobs in numbers greater than Boeing or BMW,” said Frank Knapp, President and CEO of the South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce.

State budget writers in Arkansas are working with projected revenue growth stemming from their private option plan of $438 million by 2021, according to a study from the Stephen Group. Arkansas lawmakers commissioned the study to evaluate the sustainability of their plan.

“A private option plan to cover the uninsured, like Arkansas, pays for itself. South Carolina lawmakers cannot pass on a plan that is not only affordable and sustainable, but saves the state money,” said Knapp.

Learn more at

Palmetto Plus Members:

AARP South Carolina

American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, Inc.

Columbia Urban League, Inc.

Health Care for All—SC

League of Women Voters of South Carolina

National MS Society—Greater Carolinas Chapter

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) South Carolina

National Association of Social Workers—SC Chapter

Palmetto Project

Protection and Advocacy for People with Disabilities, Inc.

SC Appleseed Legal Justice Center

SC Christian Action Council, Inc.

SC Hispanic and Latino Health Coalition

SC Small Business Chamber of Commerce

United Way Association of South Carolina

United Way of the Midlands

March of Dimes, SC Chapter



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