June 16, 2014
This week the South Carolina General Assembly will vote to sustain or override Governor Nikki Haley’s veto number 24 dealing with a budget proviso establishing an “Alternative Health Care Study Committee”. Below is a statement by Frank Knapp Jr., president and CEO of the South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce.
I am an admitted advocate for expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act (Obamcare). I have written extensively on why expanding Medicaid would benefit small businesses by having healthier, more productive employees; making health insurance more affordable for business owners who would no longer have to pay health insurance premiums for Medicaid-eligible employees; and eliminating the cost-shifting of the uncompensated care for the uninsured that drives up premiums for those with insurance.
However, I understand that the prospects for expanding Medicaid are dim. But the question still remains—how do we enable low income, non-Medicaid eligible, un-insured South Carolinians to have access to quality and timely health care if our state doesn’t expand Medicaid under the federal law. There are approximately 340,000 mostly working adults in our state that fit this description. If the employer benefits I described above can still be obtained without expanding Medicaid, then we must find another solution.
Apparently the South Carolina General Assembly agreed that finding this solution was worth trying. Included in the recently passed state budget, overwhelmingly supported by both parties, is a proviso that calls for the formation of an 8-person “Alternative Health Care Study Committee”, which was tasked in general to find a solution.
Unfortunately, Governor Haley vetoed (#24) this proviso saying that it was a way “to sneak in…Medicaid expansion” even though the proviso was publicly discussed in the Senate where it was originally approved and was a part of the discussions between the House and Senate in finalizing the budget.
Governor Haley’s veto goes on to say that the “Alternative Health Study Committee” was “carefully designed to ensure…that the Committee will recommend that we fully implement Obamacare.” She concludes with a plea to “defeat this back-door attempt to implement Obamcare.”
If having 340,000 of our fellow working citizens not having proper access to healthcare and the resulting negative consequences this is having on our businesses and healthcare providers wasn’t such a serious issue, Governor Haley’s disconnect from the reality of the proviso would be humorous. She fears that this 8-person Committee—which according to the proviso would clearly be comprised of six opponents of Obamacare including the Governor’s own appointed directors of the Department of Insurance and Department of Health and Human Services—would somehow completely fall under the spell of the two Committee members who might favor Medicaid expansion. The implication that she doesn’t even trust her own two cabinet members is particularly astounding.
Governor Haley’s veto essentially tells the Legislature that the Healthy Outcomes Initiatives crafted by her Medicaid Director and funded by the Legislature is the only and best solution to this issue. Fortunately the members of the Legislature understand that the Governor’s program is a wholly inadequate solution in that it serves only 7,000 to 10,000 of the population in need and doesn’t even move the needle to help the business community.
Governor Haley characterizes her veto as a political one to stop Obamacare. The reality is that the only thing she is really trying to stop is the Legislature’s right to formerly study a critical problem and receive a report. I believe that the members of the South Carolina Senate and House want to improve the lives and health of 340,000 citizens and do so in a way that fits into their view of government. The 176 members of the Legislature have built businesses and professions by thinking outside the box to find solutions to problems. They want to find an effective solution to this problem.
Governor Haley apparently doesn’t think they can and she certainly doesn’t even want them to try.
Contact: Frank Knapp Jr., 803-252-5733 or 803-600-6874 (cell)