During an interview with Columbia's WIS-TV that aired Thursday evening, Gov. Nikki Haley made her first public comments regarding her influence over a committee charged with deciding how the state should implement federal health care reform.

"We never said that we were going to look into a state health exchange," Haley said.

But the comment contradicts the spirit of her executive order establishing the nonpartisan, taxpayer-funded committee.

The March 10 order said the Health Planning Committee would decide "whether or not the state should establish a health insurance exchange."

Haley refused to answer questions seeking clarification from The Post and Courier this week.

A central part of the federal health care overhaul, an exchange is a marketplace where various insurance plans eventually will be sold.

A state exchange "was part of the factors that they looked at," Haley told WIS. "But I knew from the very beginning it was not going to come out and be something that South Carolina could afford or that taxpayers would want."

The committee used a portion of a $1 million federal "Exchange Planning" grant.