Failing to learn from history, in May the SC House passed the “Freedom of Health Care Protection Act ” on a party-line vote. The bill claims that the state has the power to “render null and void” the Affordable Care Act passed by Congress and upheld by the US Supreme Court.
This Tea Party sequel to the War of Northern Aggression is the latest reason why people roll their eyes when you say you are from South Carolina.
Beaufort County Sen. Tom Davis has put together a Senate Select Committee to hold public hearings on the bill the first week in November (times and locations below). Davis, a Tea Party favorite, was recently skewered in Mother Jones for lamenting the Confederate loss at Gettysburg.
Please attend one of the hearings and, in the nicest way possible, tell senators that the ACA has given Americans new rights and benefits, ending lifetime and most annual limits on care, covering preexisting conditions, and giving patients access to free preventive services. The ACA has problems, but it moves us in the right direction of having everyone covered and lowering costs.
The real problem is the fear too many lawmakers have of Tea Party opposition in the 2014 Republican primary. With 80 percent of SC legislators winning their seats with no general opposition, winners are chosen by a majority of the 10 percent who vote in the primary. This dynamic yields a state government prone to cruel delusion.
Our legislature, cheered on by Gov. Nikki Haley, refused to take back 1.4 billion of our federal tax dollars to expand Medicaid and cover some 300,000 of our poorest neighbors. These people will continue to go to emergency rooms and drive up costs. Instead of having a doctor and preventative care, they are collateral damage in an ideological war against the president’s signature policy achievement.
Because of the state’s failure to take the money, an estimated 1,319 people will die for lack of care.
The are literally killing people – lots of them – for a few hundred votes in the primary. Keep in mind all these anti-Obamacare legislators have state government health insurance. Add insult to injury, our tax dollars will now go to other states.
The governor says that we can’t afford the 10 percent matching funds in 2017 to take the billion plus a year to expand Medicaid. It’s a 100 percent grant we are turning down for the next three years. But in fact, eliminating the $300 sales tax cap on luxury cars, yachts and planes would fund the Medicaid expansion.
In other words, the state is not broke; its leaders are morally bankrupt.
Since SC refused to set up a state health insurance exchange, the feds have issued grants to nonprofit groups to help people navigate the insurance marketplace set up by the ACA. These exchanges are intended to hold down costs through comparative pricing, and offer reduced cost policies to lower-income applicants.
A minimum-wage earner in SC ($15,400) will pay around $20 a month for a $4,100 insurance policy. The subsidies are taken off the top, and are not a rebate after payment. The subsidies cover people making between 100 percent to 400 percent of the federal poverty level.
Medicaid expansion would have provided free health care for those earning less than $11,490 a year. Because South Carolina refused the expansion, the insurance subsides don’t apply to those in poverty.
The SC Progressive Network received one of the grants, and has 10 Navigators who are certified to help people buy insurance through the federal exchange. Other than the hysteria generated over the government web portal not working, the hardest part of the job is telling people who live in poverty that in South Carolina there is no help for them. That policy that cost a fast food worker $240 a year is full-price for them: $4,100.
When they ask why, we tell them to ask their legislator and their governor.
Public hearings on bill to nullify “Obamacare”
Greenville: Tuesday, Nov. 5, 6pm-8pm
Greenville County Public Library, 25 Heritage Green Place
Columbia: Wednesday, Nov. 6, 10am-noon
SC Senate Gressette Building, Columbia, SC Room 209 G – meeting room
North Charleston: Wednesday, Nov. 6, 6pm-8pm
North Charleston City Hall, Third Floor, Council Chambers, 2500 City Hall Lane