Sen. Graham, ‘opting out’ would leave South Carolina with no options at all

I’ve just been shaking my head ever since I read this release a day or two ago:

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) and John Barrasso (R-Wyoming) will hold a press conference tomorrow to discuss legislation they plan to introduce, the Medicaid Flexibility for States Act, which enables states to ‘Opt-out’ of the Medicaid expansion mandate included in Obama health care law.

And now they have introduced it.

Here’s the thing, Sen. Graham: The health care reform bill passed by Congress was far from perfect. This is thanks in part to your friend and mine (more your friend than mine, but I still respect you, him and John McCain as much as or more than anyone else in the Senate), Joe Lieberman, who blocked key provisions that could have made it more worthwhile.

But it might help. When fully implemented, it will offer some alternatives to depending upon overburdened employers for this benefit, and create at least the beginning of the kind of national pool insured that would make the most sense and benefit the most Americans. Oh, and to go back to the beginning of the sentence: “When fully implemented…” Neither you nor anyone else has even given this legislation a chance to either succeed or fail.

You’re fond of saying that “elections have consequences.” I agree, and always have. But so do votes of Congress. And while this falls far short of the kind of all-purpose nullification we’ve unfortunately seen revived over in the Legislature as our lawmakers have gone careening off into anachronistic extremism, it is still at the very least unseemly for you to be moving to exempt South Carolina from this national law. Yeah, I get that you think you are protecting South Carolina from something. But I submit that in protecting us from the bad effects that you anticipate, you would also be preventing us from receiving any benefit which you may not be able to see.

And since we desperately need something to broaden access to medical care, and you and I both know that the Legislature of this state is NOT going to do anything to help on its own — quite the contrary — it is unconscionable to try to prevent South Carolinians from reaping any such benefit.

For South Carolinians, this is it. There is no state solution. (I don’t believe any state can do it on its own, but set that aside; I know South Carolina won’t.) This is our only chance. If you “opt out” on our behalf, you’ve opted us out of any chance to get greater access to effective, affordable, portable health care.

17 thoughts on “Sen. Graham, ‘opting out’ would leave South Carolina with no options at all

  1. bud

    Most strident repudiation of Lindsey I’ve ever seen from Brad. Maybe there’s hope yet he’ll become a good liberal. Then again, probably not.

  2. Ralph Hightower

    I can just hear SC Governot Nikki Haley’s response: “We don’t need government to take care of the elderly. We’ll just rely upon faith based organizations to care for their medical bills.”

    I don’t think that’s going to work. I’ve read too many news articles where cancer has caused families to go bankrupt, lose their homes, …

  3. Kathryn Fenner

    You don’t have to be a liberal to see that Brad is write and Lindsey is pandering. I hesitate to attach motive to what may be a sincerely-held belief, but I had figured the Senator to be smarter than that.

  4. martin

    Of course Lindsey and Dr. Barrasso don’t mind when Obamacare money goes directly to help an employer. It’s only when it goes to help an actual person or their family that they get so agitated. March 19, 2011 10:44 PM

    “…Such employers — from Milliken & Co. to Michelin North America, from the S.C. State Ports Authority to Spartanburg County government — can submit high-cost claims to the federal government for an 80-percent reimbursement. High-cost claims are between $15,000 and $90,000.

    …South Carolina received a $27.1 million payment from the federal government for reimbursements claimed by entities participating in the state health plan earlier this month. That reimbursement was claimed on 2010 medical expenses for 2,521 retired state employees under age 65, according to Budget and Control Board spokeswoman Lindsey Kremlick.

    …Other approved employers participating in the federal health care program are (Blue Cross Blue Shield) First Citizens Bank and Trust, Piggly Wiggly Carolina Co., Sunoco Products Co., Spartanburg Steel Products, Savannah River Nuclear Solutions, Greenville County, Richland County Council, and the cities of Spartanburg, Columbia and North Charleston.”

    Oh, I can’t help but notice you have failed to notice the Post and Courier stories about Lindsey (and, DeMint and Henry Brown), earmarks, Chinese nationals, federal grants and illegal campaign contributions that they have been running the past few days.

  5. Mark Stewart

    People evolve everyday; I just don’t like what I’m seeing in Graham these last couple of years. Once his positions had rigor and political deftness. Now, he does seem more about pandering and deafness.

    It makes one wonder what is driving this; it’s atypical for anyone to become less wise

  6. Kathleen

    What is happening to Senator Graham? Younger legislators from more prosperous states not on the losing side in “the late unpleasantness” might have an excuse for flirting with nullification. I thought he had a longer memory, a more accurate grasp on SC reality,and more sense in general. But then, I forgot for a moment, pandering is the word of the day.

  7. Greg Jones

    Exactly how much of Medicaid are they hoping to opt out of? Do any of you have a clue what the federal Medicaid dollars mean to SC’s economy? Trust me, I do.

  8. Tim

    So, if South Carolina and other states want to opt out, can some counties in that state opt back in? And maybe some cities in those counties could opt back out, then maybe some neighborhoods in those cities could opt back in, and maybe some blocks could then choose to opt in or out.

  9. Steve Gordy

    “What is happening to Senator Graham?” The Tea Party, specifically his colleague Senator DeMint, have put the fear of Koch into him. Or perhaps it’s because he recognizes that his favored program of remaking the Middle East through American intervention is past its sell-by date.

  10. Doug Ross

    Here’s what Obamacare gets you:

    From the AP:

    Asthma patients who rely on over-the-counter inhalers will need to switch to prescription-only alternatives as part of the federal government’s latest attempt to protect the Earth’s atmosphere.

    The Food and Drug Administration said Thursday patients who use the epinephrine inhalers to treat mild asthma will need to switch by Dec. 31 to other types that do not contain chlorofluorocarbons, an aerosol substance once found in a variety of spray products.

    The action is part of an agreement signed by the U.S. and other nations to stop using substances that deplete the ozone layer, a region in the atmosphere that helps block harmful ultraviolet rays from the Sun.

    But the switch to a greener inhaler will cost consumers more. Epinephrine inhalers are available via online retailers for around $20, whereas the alternatives, which contain the drug albuterol, range from $30 to $60.

  11. Steven Davis

    Those darn asthmatics, I wonder if they do more damage to the ozone layer than say cigarette smokers or pickled egg eaters.

  12. Brad

    Ummm… I don’t see what that has to do with “Obamacare.”

    As for over-the-counter inhalers… I’ve always heard those things were ineffective, and possibly dangerous.

    In any case, I’ve never used an over-the-counter inhaler. I actually want to control my asthma.

    What makes me curious about this is whether it also applies to such presciption inhalers as ones containing albuterol. If it did, it wouldn’t be the end of the world. I’ve never found albuterol in that form to be all that effective, anyway. That drug is much more effectively delivered using a nebulizer.

    The best thing, of course, is to control it so you don’t have to use any of those “rescue” devices. I discovered several years ago that the thing that worked for me was a combination of Asmanex and Singulair. Both of which are very expensive. But as long as I stay on them, I never need an inhaler of any kind. Or prednisone. Or the ultimate emergency treatment, an injection of epinephrine (adrenaline).

    I don’t know this, but I’ve always had the impression that those over-the-counter inhalers are something used by people who don’t have access to a doctor — or are simply self-medicating for some other reason. Which with something as critical as being able to breathe probably isn’t a good idea.

    And the point of “Obamacare,” as I understand it, is to get to the point where everyone can get better care than that.

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