Medicaid expansion (and rational thought) dead this year

The SC House Republican majority has passed a budget that does not include Medicaid expansion but provides $80 million for expanding health care services. It appears that the Senate will not include Medicaid expansion in its version of the budget. Senate Democrats have adopted a “maybe next year” position; rational Republicans say they will “wait and see” what their options are.

We thought that Republicans couldn’t turn down the 44,000 jobs and the $1.4 billion a year that the expansion would bring in the next seven years. We were wrong. While opponents of the expansion claim that the state can’t afford to provide health coverage to 350,000 low-income citizens, the legislature just gave Boeing another $120 million for promising another 2,000 jobs. That brings the Boeing subsidies close to $1 billion.

In comparison, expanding Medicaid would bring in an aggregate of around $1.8 billion a year for a cost of around $80 million a year, and would create 6,300 new jobs a year.

Dr. John Ruoff has crunched the numbers the governor is using and came up with a 2014 through 2020 cost to South Carolina of $570 million for accepting nearly $13 billion that the expansion would generate. That’s a cost of about $80 million a year to reap the benefits of expansion. Ruoff points out that other, more reliable studies show a net gain through the many benefits of a healthier population.

One of the “wait and see” elements is the push by Republican governors to get the Medicaid money put into block grants to the states, where it would be used to buy private insurance. This free-market scheme will benefit the insurance industry and greatly reduce actual health care benefits.

The Progressive Network is weighing options for direct action early in the 2014 legislative session. Please let us know your thoughts by sending email to network@scpronet.com or calling 803-808-3384.

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