South Carolina funds healthcare for inmates but not its law-abiding citizens

By David F. Keely
President of Health Care for All – South Carolina

In March, the SC House of Representatives turned down the opportunity to fund a common sense expansion of our SC Medicaid insurance safety net program when it proposed its version of the state budget. So the 80% of South Carolinians who live in urban areas will not be helped in accessing quality, affordable healthcare under the SC House’s alternate plan (endorsed by Governor Haley) which is to be funded with $80 million in the House’s proposed FY 2013-2014 state budget.

Here it is May, and the SC Senate appears unlikely to incorporate SC Medicaid expansion into its version of the FY 2013-2014 state budget.

Yes, the “new” Medicaid expansion (as provided by the federal Affordable Care Act) would deliver a well-constructed package of essential health benefits to struggling, working South Carolinians who need it most to stay productive in their jobs and/or in their continuing education endeavors. And, where there are healthy adults in a household, there also does one find healthier dependent children.

So, take note:

While our state government sees fit to provide full-service healthcare to almost 28,000 convicted lawbreakers housed in state prison facilities, at a state cost of over $2,000 per person, our government, by its actions, is saying that we, as a state, cannot afford to provide essential benefits healthcare to about 200,000 working, law-abiding South Carolina citizens.

Under the federal Affordable Care Act, the cost for expanding SC Medicaid comes to only 92-cents per person! Even using very conservative estimates, by state fiscal year 2019-2020, state government cost for maintaining the SC Medicaid expansion is, at most, $670 per person (that’s assuming no new jobs and no positive economic ripple effect at all.

Now, where is the justice in that comparison?

What are our state leaders thinking? Would you believe that the average number of fully-paid medical treatments per year by the SC Department of Corrections for its prison facility inmates is 32 per year?

It’s way past overdue for SC voters to hear these facts and be asking our state leaders why this glaring healthcare disparity is being ignored in our state.

Contact your neighbors and make these facts known. Be a voice for healthcare jutice in South Carolina now (and over the next year). Thank you!

David F. Keely is a Rock Hill physician.

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