South Carolina Votes Against State-Based Exchange

Welcome to South CarolinaQuite some time ago, the Governor of South Carolina, Nikki Haley, decided that her state would not create its own health insurance exchange. Now, the South Carolina House of Representatives have officially voted against a state-based exchange. People who live in the state will still have access to a federal exchange.

In September of 2011, the South Carolina Department of Insurance received a federal Planning Grant of $1 million. The purpose of the money from a Planning Grant was to help a state begin working on a state-based health insurance exchange.

The governor established the South Carolina Health Planning Committee by executive order. The committee decided that the state should not create a state-based health insurance exchange. In December of 2011, Governor Haley’s influence over this Committee was called into question.

On November 15, 2012, Governor Nikki Haley informed the federal government that South Carolina would default to a federal health insurance exchange. One might conclude that this was the final decision, and the end of the story.

Instead, state lawmakers decided that the final decision regarding what type of health insurance exchange South Carolina will have should come from them. The South Carolina House of Representatives approved the “State Health Care Freedom Act” on a 65 – 44 party line vote. The purpose of this bill was to endorse the governor’s decision, and also to allow legislators to have a say in that decision.

One of the sponsors of the bill was Representative Joshua Putnam, who is a Republican. He said:

We agree we will stand by the governor.

Another sponsor of the bill was Representative Kris Crawford, who is a Republican. He said:

In the federal Affordable Care Act, they made a provision that they would accept an answer of yes or no from the executive branch of all the states and that’s fine based on the timelines and things that they needed. However, from South Carolina’s perspective, if we’re gonna have a health insurance policy, and this is clearly a health insurance policy decision, it needs to be made by the policy body, that’s the general assembly.

There are opponents to this decision. One is Representative John King, who is a Democrat. He would prefer that South Carolina create a state-based exchange, instead of a federal one. He said:

This will allow the federal government to come in and implement Obamacare here in South Carolina.

People who live in South Carolina will have access to a federally run health insurance exchange. They will be able to use the exchange to find affordable health insurance. Open enrollment begins October 1, 2013. Health insurance plans purchased through the exchange will go into affect as of January 1, 2014.

Image by Paul Hamilton on Flickr