A moral issue suffered immoral defeat this evening in the State House, and not just once and not twice, but three times.
An annual budget amendment pertaining to Medicaid Expansion was rejected on each call, and was formally tabled after five hours of debate.
As a result, approximately 300,000 South Carolinians who were eligible for the program are now left without needed medical coverage.
The 73-41 defeating count was by split by party, with all Republican state representatives voting against the expansion.
House Minority Leader Todd Rutherford called Medicaid Expansion a “moral obligation” in the evening debate.
“Denying (poverty) access to health care, denying them insurance, is not how anyone should be treated.”
This provision of the Affordable Care Act offered Medicaid coverage to households within 100 percent to 138 percent of the Federal Poverty Level, and at no cost to the state for three years. From 2017 to 2019, South Carolina would have to assume five percent of the costs, and then 10 percent beginning in 2020.
Instead of morality, however, the State House Republicans apparently voted in favor of money, and on a premise of immoral and political falsehood, to boot.
“We knew (the amendments are) where Obamacare supporters would make the strongest push to opt-in,” House Speaker Rep. Bobby Harrell said in official statement, “and we stood strong against this multi-billion dollar expansion.”
However, this Medicaid Expansion portion of the Affordable Care Act was projected to by Univ. of South Carolina’s Moore School of Business to benefit the state rather than cost, and with creation of 44,000 jobs, $1.5 billion in income and $3.3 billion in economic activity in the state by 2020.
Its rejection will also create additional costs for emergency room care, the state AARP says, and this Medicaid Expansion paid for by South Carolina hospitals and taxpayers will now go other states.
Over two dozen organizations in the state, including the Chamber of Commerce, AARP, United Way, American Heart Association and local hospitals, publicly requested the state to accept Medicaid Expansion.
The issue now heads to state Senate, where this evening’s House vote could have impact on its outcome.
“Too strong a headwind is coming from … the House of Representatives,” Senate President Pro Tem John Courson told The State, indicating this other legislative branch could follow precedent.