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SC Senate Democrats Push for Medicaid Expansion
5/15/2014 11:26:25 AM

Columbia, SC - South Carolina Senate Democrats today pushed for Medicaid expansion in the state. The effort was part of the ongoing state budget debate. Senators Darrell Jackson (D-Richland) and Marlon Kimpson (D-Charleston) led the push to require South Carolina to accept Medicaid expansion dollars that are available through the Affordable Care Act. This is the second year state Senate Democrats have pushed for expansion in the state budget.

The move was defeated along a party line vote.

"Once again right-wing ideology has trumped good public policy in South Carolina," Senator Jackson said of the vote to defeat expansion. "We continue to fail the people of this state in favor of playing politics."

Under the Democrats Medicaid expansion proposal, South Carolina would be required to accept available dollars through the Affordable Care Act. Medicaid eligibility would expand to people with incomes less than 138 percent of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) ($19,530 for a family of three in 2013). The first two years of expansion would be paid for with federal dollars. After that, the state would be responsible for only ten percent of the cost.

"This is our money we've paid in taxes," said Senator Kimpson. "We are continuing to send our money to New Jersey, California and other states that have expanded their Medicaid programs. This makes absolutely no sense."

Senate Democrats have made expanding access to health care a legislative priority. Expansion could have potentially covered nearly 200,000 people in South Carolina with health insurance.

"We're already paying for uninsured patients care and it's incredibly costly," said Senator Jackson. "An insured patient is whole lot less expensive than an uninsured patient. We are continuing to push this high cost burden on everyone in South Carolina."

The impact on rural medical providers was another point Senate Democrats were pushing during the debate. Medicaid expansion would have a major impact on rural South Carolina. Democrats said that rural county hospitals are in danger of closing and having additional insured patients covering medical cost would be a needed boost.

"We are continuing down a path were hospitals are in danger of closing and people losing their access to health care. We've seen this already with the closing of Bamberg County Hospital," said Senator Kimpson.

Senate Democrats vowed to continue to push for Medicaid expansion saying South Carolina can no longer afford to ignore the potential economic boost for the state. According a study from the University of South Carolina's Moore School of Business, fully implementing Medicaid expansion would produce as many as 44,000 jobs and generate over $4 billion in economic activity.

"We owe it to our constituents and to the people of South Carolina and I'm proud to join my Democratic colleagues to continue this push," said Senator Kimpson.

Visitor Comments

Submitted By: Eleanor Hare Submitted: 5/16/2014
About $1,200 of each family's health insurance premium pays for medical treatment for the uninsured. Expanding Medicaid, thus decreasing the number of uninsured, would be good for everybody.

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