States across the country are slowly moving forward in implementing health insurance exchanges, a key component of the Affordable Care Act that helps uninsured Americans compare private insurance policies. Thirty-eight states have introduced legislation promoting these exchanges, and 10 states have enshrined them in law.
Even GOP leaders who consistently rail against the health care law are pursuing similar exchanges. In South Carolina, former GOP Gov. Mark Sanford (R) accepted $1 million in federal grant money last year to being exploring an exchange for his state, the fifth poorest in the nation.
But there’s a new executive in town, and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) is putting her foot down on progress. Committed to the “Obamacare” demagoguery, Haley declared that her administration will opt out of this state-driven solution to find its own state-driven solution that will provide “the most health at the least cost”:
But Haley and Tony Keck, whom Haley appointed to head the state’s Department of Health and Human Services, say the federal plan is not the right fit for South Carolina.
“The governor remains an equal opportunity opponent of ObamaCare, the spending disaster that South Carolina does not want and cannot afford,” said Rob Godfrey, Haley’s spokesman. “She and Tony Keck are focused on finding South Carolina solutions that provide our state with the most health at the least cost.”
By rejecting the option of setting up her own exchange, all Haley is guaranteeing now is that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will do it for her. All health exchanges are schedule to open in 2014 when ACA is fully implemented. But if a state has not made progress by Jan. 1, 2013, HHS will intervene. Indeed, HHS is bending over backwards to give states a “second chance” in setting up exchanges to avoid federal action. Only 12 states are refusing to move forward with health care exchanges.
Haley’s refusal to help implement an inevitable health reform all in the name of politics may not sit well with the 21 percent of South Carolinians under age 65 who have no insurance. As state Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter (D) notes, “Governor Haley and all these people spouting the rhetoric have good health coverage…the people who don’t have a place at the table, their voices are not being heard.”
Keck, however, did not completely shut the door on an exchange. “If [the state] decides later that it makes sense for the state to run [an exchange], then we’ll run it. But that may be years off.”