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SC House Shoots Down Medicaid Expansion



South Carolina’s House of Representatives shot down an amendment to the state budget which would have dramatically expanded the Palmetto State’s already oversized Medicaid population.

The amendment – one of several filed in conjunction with U.S. President Barack Obama’s socialized medicine law – failed the GOP-controlled chamber along party lines.

The issue isn’t dead, though. The state’s Medicaid budget could still be amended in the “Republican-controlled” S.C. Senate – which leans much further to the left than the S.C. House. In fact it has a champion there in the person of S.C. Sen. Vincent Sheheen (D-Camden), who is hoping to use the issue on the campaign trail in 2014.

Not only that, South Carolina lawmakers will likely be fighting this same battle again during next year’s budget debate as Obamacare-related dollars will remain on the table.

S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley has pledged to oppose the Obamacare expansion. However, her administration has already spent more than $60 million on a bid to expand the state’s Medicaid population – and wants to spend additional money to expand it even further.

So this is really a question of degrees …

Let’s look at the numbers: The Obamacare expansion would add approximately 545,000 new beneficiaries to the state’s already bloated Medicaid rolls over the next seven years – sixty percent of which would likely go on the taxpayer dole within the first year.

Along with other growth, this expansion would balloon the state’s Medicaid population from its current level of 1.1 million to 1.7 million by 2020.

That’s a whopping 54.5 percent increase in just seven years.

Even without the Obamacare expansion, South Carolina’s Medicaid population is set to expand by more than 130,000 people in the current fiscal year. Meanwhile the state’s total Medicaid budget is projected to soar from $5.9 billion to $6.5 billion in the current fiscal year – in large part to cover all those new enrollees.

That’s a nine percent hike – in just one year.

Tea Partiers refer to this expansion as “Haleycare” – and have derided the governor for her hypocrisy on this issue.

Nonetheless Democrats – led by S.C. Rep. Mandy Powers-Norrell – weren’t satisfied, and lobbied aggressively for the Obamacare expansion on the House floor.

“We’ve already paid for the coverage,” Powers-Norrell said, arguing that South Carolina should claim its fair share of Obamacare dollars.