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Haley To Reject Federal Money For ACA Implementation

From The Spartanburg Herald Journal:

“This is going to mean instead of the fox guarding the henhouse, the fox would be designing the henhouse.” -Rep. Harold Mitchell

By Stephen Largen
stephen.largen@shj.com

COLUMBIA — Gov. Nikki Haley has decided South Carolina won’t pursue any more grant money from the federal health care overhaul to fund a possible state-run health insurance exchange.

“The governor has said she’s going to evaluate these opportunities as they come as to what’s best for South Carolina,” said Tony Keck, the director of the state Department of Health and Human Services. “The one decision she’s already made is that there is no reason for South Carolina to apply for additional money related to health insurance exchanges.”

Keck made the comments on Thursday after the second meeting of the South Carolina Health Planning Committee, a group established by a Haley executive order that’s looking at setting up a state-run health insurance exchange and other opportunities to improve access to and reduce the cost of health care.

A health insurance exchange is an online marketplace where consumers can shop for and compare health insurance policies.

The federal health care overhaul dictates that states must set up their own exchanges to go live when the law goes into full effect in 2014 or have the federal government step in and set up one for them. Continue reading

Tea Party Upends S.C. Insurance Exchange Bill

State House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dan Cooper, R-Anderson, and seven other Republican state House members today removed their support from legislation that would create a state health insurance exchange.

The legislation, created by state Rep. Harold Mitchell, D-Spartanburg, picked up sponsorship from about a dozen Republican representatives earlier this month in addition to its initial Democratic co-sponsors, but the bill has now lost most of its GOP supporters.

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What Happened To S.C.’s $16.8M In Health Care Funds?

From The Spartanburg Herald-Journal:

Rep. Bakari Sellers, marshal of this particular sunshine brigade.

Lawmakers seek answers, say SC quietly taking health care funds

Published: Tuesday, March 15, 2011 at 3:15 a.m.

COLUMBIA — Five state lawmakers led by Rep. Bakari Sellers, D-Bamberg, have requested an audit of the S.C. Department of Insurance to account for dollars that have been awarded to, and perhaps spent by, the state of South Carolina under the federal health care reform act.

“The public is not aware that we’ve received this money,” Sellers said. “Our leadership has shied away from talking about it. This is a quest to shine light on things.”

He added: “I hope we’re not hoarding information as well as hoarding dollars.”

At least $16.8 million has been awarded to the state under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, according to a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services fact sheet. That includes a $1 million grant that was applied for and rewarded in September to plan for health insurance exchanges.

“For a very long time, we heard our state wasn’t accepting federal dollars,” Sellers said. “And come to find out, we received (more than) $15 million. I just wanted to make sure we’re using them for the correct purpose.”

The Governor’s Office said Cabinet agencies had only applied for about $2.4 million of the available money and pointed out that it happened under the administration of former Gov. Mark Sanford.

Of that, only about $17,000 has been drawn down from the federal government — but a recent executive order makes the $1 million available to study exchanges, said Tim Pearson, chief of staff for Gov. Nikki Haley.

“The Legislative Audit Council is always welcome to come in and look at our agencies. We’ve always said that,” he said. “I think they’ll come in and find the Department of Insurance is doing what it’s supposed to do.”

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