Something to Celebrate

By SC Rep. Gilda Cobb Hunter

Chief Justice John Roberts is to be commended for the courage and leadership he showed in the historic recent ruling by the US Supreme Court. The decision upholding the Affordable Care Act was a fitting tribute and wonderful gift for America’s 236th birthday.

If only Gov. Nikki Haley, Attorney General Alan Wilson, and others in positions of leadership saw it the same way. Their insistence on continuing to spend time and our state’s limited resources fighting for the sake of fighting is a waste of taxpayer money.

What happened to this notion of the rule of law and respect for the process? Does that apply only when we agree, otherwise we are free to take our ball and go home? The Supreme Court is the final arbiter, accept it and move on. To do otherwise shows more interest in scoring political points on the national stage than truly addressing the needs of nearly one million South Carolinians who are without health care insurance.

The core argument is that the state should decide what the best plan to provide coverage to 900,000-plus uninsured South Carolinians looks like. Rep. Harold Mitchell and I introduced legislation last year that would have given South Carolina an opportunity to do just that. Our bill created health exchanges, new marketplaces starting in 2014 that will allow individuals and small businesses to compare and choose private health plans.

The passage of the Affordable Care Act included funds for states to plan for a state-based solution for providing health care coverage for the uninsured. South Carolina accepted $1 million from the federal government as a planning grant, while Gov. Haley developed a plan to opt out.

So where is the plan; how will it provide coverage; how many will be covered; during what time period; at what cost to taxpayers; and what steps are in place to implement it? These are reasonable questions since we are refusing to expand Medicaid to 133% of poverty, as 43 other states have done.

Understanding the Affordable Care Act requires accurate information. A lot of South Carolinians who stand to benefit most have decided they don’t support the law. They would be wise to considerer the facts:

  • Insurance companies no longer have unchecked power to cancel your policy, deny your child coverage due to a pre-existing condition or charge women more than men.
  • Coverage of preventive care free of charge like mammograms for women and wellness visits for seniors.
  • 5.3 million Seniors and people with disabilities have already been helped to save an average of over $600 on prescription drugs in the “donut hole” in Medicare coverage.
  • Children up to 26 years of age can stay on parent’s policy.
  • The federal government for three years pays 100% of the costs to expand Medicaid to cover more uninsured. After the third year the federal portion of the tab is 90% and 10% to the state.

The fig leaf opponents have grabbed from the Supreme Court’s decision is the tax label. The fact is the tax will apply to less than 1% of irresponsible Americans who can afford insurance but refuse to buy it passing their cost of care on to the rest of us.

Enough already! Empty rhetoric and name calling might score political points with certain base voters, but it does nothing to get uninsured South Carolinians adequate coverage.

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