The South Carolina House of Representatives agreed Thursday not to create a state-run health insurance exchange under the Patient Protection Affordable Care Act, AKA Obamacare.
The GOP-controlled House approved the “State Health Care Freedom Act” (H3096) by a vote of 73-40. The measure serves as an endorsement of Republican Gov. Nikki Haley’s refusal to embrace a key part of the federal health-care legislation that President Barack Obama signed in 2010.
“We agree will we will stand by the governor,” said Rep. Joshua Putnam, a Piedmont Republican who was one of the act’s sponsors.
Haley outlined her position on insurance exchanges in a letter to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services director Kathleen Sebelius just days after Obama’s re-election in November.
Arguing that the provisions in the federal health-care law would give South Carolina little flexibility or control, Haley said in her letter that “our state should not and will not set up a state-based” insurance exchange.
Tony Keck, director of the state Department of Health and Human Services, acknowledged that if the state opts not to act, federal officials will create an insurance exchange where South Carolina residents can choose from competing health-coverage plans.
But Keck also noted that 24 other states have decided not to create their own insurance exchanges for reasons similar to those Haley has cited.
“It doesn’t make sense for a state to get involved,” Keck said.
The legislation approved Thursday now will move to the South Carolina Senate.
In her State of the State speech last week, Haley vowed, “As long as I am governor, South Carolina will not implement the public policy disaster that is Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion.”
State Sen. Kevin Bryant, a Republican from Anderson, said Thursday that the state cannot afford to pay its share of the cost for expanding Medicaid. He also objects to accepting federal money that will add to the nation’s growing debt.
Bryant and two other state senators have introduced a bill that seeks to nullify the entire federal health-care law in South Carolina on constitutional grounds. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld most portions of the law in a ruling last summer.
Bryant said he is not overly concerned about the prospect of a legal challenge if the proposed “South Carolina Freedom of Health Care Protection Act” is enacted by the General Assembly.
“A majority of our state does not want the federal government to tell them that they have to buy health insurance,” Bryant said.
LEGISLATION AND TRACKING
If you would like to see model legislation to introduce in your state to nullify state health care exchanges, please see The Tenth Amendment Center’s Model Legislation: Model Legislation: Nullify Obamacare in 4 Steps
Track the status of federal health care nullification legislation in states around the country HERE
If you live in South Carolina, contact your state legislator. Let him or her know your concern for the health care exchange and that you expect support for this legislation. Click here for contact information.
Join the SC activists’ group on facebook to nullify Obamacare here: