You may have read Adam Beam’s story in The State over the weekend about SC House Democrat’s proposal to at least take the three years of free Medicaid expansion that the Feds are offering:
COLUMBIA — Imagine someone offered to give you $4.1 billion over three years, and if you did not take it, your neighbors would get the money instead.
That is the situation South Carolina is in with the federal government, according to S.C. House Democrats who are pushing for the state to expand Medicaid – the joint federal-state health insurance program for the poor and disabled.
The money is not really free, Republicans counter. After three years, South Carolina would have to start paying part of the cost of expanding Medicaid – anywhere from $613 million to $1.9 billion by 2020 – depending on a number of variables.
That’s why Monday, the day that the S.C. House begins debating the state’s $22.7 billion budget, Democratic lawmakers are going to propose an amendment that would accept federal money for the first three years of the Medicaid expansion – when the feds would pay 100 percent of the cost – and, then, automatically end the expanded program…
Well, today, the House Dems held a press conference to talk further about their proposal. The reasons were the usual: It makes no sense to turn down something that won’t cost the state anything for three years, especially when it addresses a critical need. It makes no sense for those of us who have insurance to be paying more to underwrite the most expensive kind of care for people who don’t have coverage. And of course, they hit the angle that it’s the decent, moral, compassionate thing to do.
As for the claim that expansion will cost a couple of billion by 2020, the Dems expressed polite contempt for journalists who would pass that on without investigating its veracity. Gilda Cobb-Hunter called the claim “specious at best.”
I’ll let the number-crunchers sort that out. My point in writing about this is to say that everything the Democrats said today not only made perfect sense, but should be perfectly obvious.
And I have to wonder — why has such a common-sense proposal become a minority position in South Carolina? Because don’t fool yourselves — SC Democrats have little chance of having their way.
Four years ago, the Republican leadership in the General Assembly thought Mark Sanford had lost his mind when he wanted to let stimulus money that was going to be spent anyway be spent elsewhere instead of in South Carolina. And they were right.
Now, the standard GOP position is to turn down this program, just because it has the name “Obama” attached to it.
What’s wrong with us in South Carolina?