Gubernatorial candidates Nikki Haley, the Republican nominee, and Vincent Sheheen, the Democratic candidate, weighed in on the rapid increase in the state's Medicaid enrollment with proposed solutions for meeting the state's health care needs.
Haley said the increased enrollment is a symptom of another problem.
"I think what we're really talking about is the rising cost in health care," Haley said. "That's why so many people are uninsured."
Washington mandates contained in the new health care law are the problem, she said. The solution can be found in tort reform, allowing insurance companies to cross state lines and offering incentives to small businesses, among other fixes, she said.
" 'Obama Care' is probably the worst thing that we can be doing for the citizens of the state," Haley said. "This is the time we need leaders to stand up and say, 'Enough is enough.' "
Haley said, as governor, she would form a coalition of other governors to discuss health care needs and how to reform what's in place.
Sheheen said the rising demand for Medicaid is indicative of the another problem: high unemployment.
"When you have one the highest unemployment numbers, those other issues arise," he said.
The fundamental step toward meeting South Carolina's health care needs is to make sure residents can access private insurance through an employer, Sheheen said.
"When people aren't working they can't afford to purchase insurance so they wind up on Medicaid," he said. "The only real accessible insurance is through their employer."
With regard to the new federal health care law, Sheheen said state leaders have an obligation to push back on aspects of that law or any other that don't help the state. Sheheen said he is looking at the details as more becomes known about the new health care law to make sure it's what's best for South Carolina.