Charleston’s Chamber took a more progressive stance on healthcare, however, in a press release it issued yesterday.
The Chamber’s Board of Directors decided unanimously to support Medicaid expansion included in the Affordable Care Act, it says.
“The position is consistent with our Chamber’s Guiding Principles and Legislative Agenda, which work to reduce healthcare costs for business and support legislation that will help the region attract and expand business, industry and jobs.”
The Chamber will have to present its argument to Gov. Nikki Haley, however, who has regularly stated she would refuse the program.
Under the Affordable Care Act, the state would not be responsible for any additional funding needed for Medicare expansion through 2016. For the three following years, South Carolina would only assume five percent of Medicare costs, and beginning in 2020 the state would pay 10 percent.
Haley objects to that future cost, however, and recently told the Independent Mail “there (is) no way to make the dollars and cents work to give the health care to South Carolinians the way they need it.”
This small amount would be less than the expenses faced without the expansion, though, the state legislative director of AARP told The State.
“Expanding Medicaid will give people without insurance access to preventive care that can reduce the need for expensive emergency room care,” said Teresa Arnold.
While Haley is not mentioned in its press release, the Chamber addresses the impact of her expansion rejection.
“There are two options,” said Bryan Derreberry, president and CEO of the local Chamber. “South Carolina can accept the Medicaid expansion and receive 90 percent of costs from the federal government, or reject the plan and absorb 100 percent of the costs and lose revenue from Washington, D.C.”
South Carolinians most pertinent to general medical care seem to agree with the Chamber, too. A recentAARP survey found that 54 percent of registered voters in the state who are of ages 45 and older support Medicaid expansion in South Carolina, which 88 percent find to be important.
Over 300,000 in the state who currently have no type of medical insurance would become eligible for coverage with this expansion.
Local medical facilities also welcome the Chamber’s support. The CEOs of Roper St. Francis, Trident Health and East Cooper Medical Center all issued statements in the Chamber’s press release agreeing with the organization’s backing of Medicaid expansion.
It will “serve as a lifeline for the poor and uninsured in our state,” said Roper’s David Dunlap, and helps satisfy a “responsibility to care for the entire community,” Trident’s Todd Gallati said.
It also substantially benefits businesses in the area, too, says Jason Alexander of East Cooper. “Without the expansion of Medicaid eligibility, South Carolinians and their employers will continue to bear the entire cost of caring for those citizens between 100 percent and 138 percent of the Federal Poverty Level.”
The Affordable Care Act has already provided significant savings to small businesses. This year, companies with less than 25 full-time (or part-time equivalent) employees can claim as much as 35 percent of their insurance costs as a tax credit. Beginning next year, the amount increases to 50 percent of insurance premium costs.
The program could be a terrific asset to the state economy, too, a recent study reports, challenging Haley’s claim of unaffordable costs. Done on behalf of the South Carolina Hospital Association, the study found that Medicare expansion would create 44,000 jobs, $1.5 billion in income and $3.3 billion in economic activity in the state by 2020.
The Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce has over 1,875 members.