Medicaid expansion debate rages on in Columbia
Medical University of South Carolina President Ray Greenberg testified before a state Senate committee last week that the General Assembly should hire a third party to study the potential impact of expanding Medicaid for more residents.
Gov. Nikki Haley and other Republican politicians have vowed that the state will not expand the low-income health insurance program in South Carolina.
Greenberg acknowledged that he is unlikely to change their minds — at least in 2013.
“My conversations have really tried to focus on making sure we have an independent reliable source of information about what’s happening in the health care market,” he said Thursday.
Under current state law, childless adults who are not pregnant or disabled do not qualify for Medicaid, regardless of their poverty level. An optional program under the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act allows states an option of expanding the health insurance to more people starting next year.
Rep. Murrell Smith, R-Sumter, speaking on SCETV’s weekly political talk show “This Week in the State House,” said that even with the federal government offering to fund 90 percent of the Medicaid expansion, the program is still too expensive.
“Giving someone health insurance does not improve their health. That’s been proven time and time again,” Smith said.
Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter, D-Orangeburg, also speaking on the talk show, said the consequences will be “catastrophic” for the state if lawmakers opt out of the expansion.
“It’s being penny-wise and pound-foolish for us to say we can’t afford to do it,” Cobb-Hunter said.
“This Week at the State House” is hosted by Lt. Gov. Glenn McConnell.
“You can see why there’s debate on this issue here in Columbia,” McConnell said at the end of the 30-minute broadcast.Reach Lauren Sausser at 937-5598.