Haley touts “tort reform” as magic bean for reforming health care “our way”- a lightweight policy prescription, at best.
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham said Monday they are backing federal legislation that would free states from mandates of the new national health care laws while advocates say they’re playing politics.
Graham said he’ll introduce a bill that will allow states to opt out of requirements that are at the heart of the new law, including mandates for individuals and businesses to buy coverage, as well as expansion of state Medicaid programs and minimum coverage requirements.
“There is a better way,” Graham said. “This bill allows the state of South Carolina to say ‘no’ to Washington when it comes to federally run, dominated health care.”
Haley said the federal law emphasizes health care services.
“What we need to be focused on is health — how do we get the most health for the least amount of money. If South Carolina does it right, we will actually reform health care our own way in our own state,” Haley said. “We need to be focused on adding more jobs. We don’t need to be focused on adding more Medicaid.”
In December, Haley asked President Barack Obama about ways to opt out of the federal law. Haley said Obama told her that if the state could operate a health care insurance exchange, allow insurance pools and bar insurers from denying coverage for pre-existing health care conditions, it might be able to opt out.
But looking into that so far suggested that about 175,000 people who now have employer insurance policies in South Carolina would instead get coverage through a Medicaid-backed plan, Haley said.
Graham’s legislation “is a surefire way of opting out in the way that we want to and not the way the president wants us to,” Haley said.
It doesn’t mean doing nothing, Haley said.
“First of all, we are absolutely going to do something in South Carolina, because health care is a strong issue in South Carolina that we care about,” Haley said. “But we’re going to do it our way. We’re going to do it through tort reform. We’re going to do it through jobs and education. We’re going to do it through Medicaid reform in the way that we look at how we manage our Medicaid dollars.”
South Carolina has already reformed its medical malpractice lawsuit system, said John Ruoff, program director for the advocacy group South Carolina Fair Share.
“How much more money are we going to save?” Ruoff asked.
Ruoff said South Carolina stands to create jobs with the federal health care law because more federal matching funds will be available for the state. Opting out would mean the state gives up $10.9 billion that would go to doctors, hospitals and other health care businesses. He said it raised questions about whether Graham and Haley were putting politics ahead of the state’s well-being.
And Frank Knapp, chief executive of the South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce, said at least 96 percent of the businesses in South Carolina have fewer than 50 employees and wouldn’t be required to buy health insurance under the federal laws.
At the same time, new federal tax credits that encourage smaller employers to buy insurance are already working, Knapp said.
“Small businesses are not running away in fear,” he said. “They are taking and using the tax credits that are already in this bill.”
Filed under: In the news Tagged: | Affordable Care Act, Frank Knapp, Health Care Reform, John Ruoff, Nikki Haley, opt out, South Carolina Fair Share, South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce, tort reform