South Carolina Plan To Cover 160,000 Uninsured Residents
The Covering CarolinaCollaborative last week unveiled a $230 million plan to cover 160,000 of thestate's approximately 700,000 uninsured residents, the Charleston Post and Courier reports. The collaborative's plan would:
- Extend Medicaid coverage to parents whose income is below 100% of the federal poverty level and to children in families whose income is between 200% and 250% of the poverty level;
- Provide tax credits to individuals and small businesses to help people with incomes between 100% and 250% of the poverty level purchase coverage; and
- Create a high-risk pool for low-income residents who have pre-existing medical conditions and cannot obtain other coverage.
Thecollaborative has proposed funding the initiative with a cigarette tax increasethat already has passed the state House and is being considered by a Senatepanel. Under the legislation being considered by state lawmakers, the cigarettetax would increase by 30 cents per pack, but the coalition's proposal, whichwould cost an estimated $230 million, would require a cigarette tax increase ofat least 90 cents per pack, according to the Post and Courier.
State Rep. Chip Limehouse (R), a member of the state House Ways and Means Committee, said, "I'm not whollyconfident there's support for a greater (tax) increase," adding that thestate instead should use cigarette tax revenue to fund Medicaid, which receivesa federal match of $3 to $1, and nursing programs. Lynn Bailey, a health careconsultant who is affiliated with South Caroliniansfor Universal Health Care, said the plan overlooks the middle class and wouldcover a small portion of the state's uninsured residents. She said, "Wecan't leave 600,000 in South Carolinawithout insurance and ever think we can control health care costs."
The collaborative includes the South CarolinaHospital Association,South Carolina Medical Association, South Carolina Chamber of Commerce and South Carolina Alliance of Health Plans (Coley, Charleston Post and Courier,1/25).
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