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S.C. Fair Share’s Ruoff To The Rescue With Facts

From The Greenville News:

Critics Question Haley’s health Care Numbers

By Tim Smith • CAPITAL BUREAU • February 15. 2011

COLUMBIA — Advocates of a new federal health-care law are questioning the numbers and assertions by Gov. Nikki Haley and U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham in pushing for legislation to allow states to “opt out” of the new law.

Graham, who has argued the new law would bankrupt South Carolina, and Haley, who also opposes the law, say Graham’s legislation would allow states to choose not to participate in some of the law’s most costly mandates, including Medicaid expansion.

“Medicaid is broken,” Graham said. “It should be reformed, not expanded to the point it would bankrupt the state of South Carolina.”

Haley, who told the Legislature last month the new law would cost $2.7 billion over 10 years, said Monday it would cost $3.2 billion. “We need to be focused on adding more jobs,” Haley said.

The $3.2 billion number and other assertions by Haley and Graham drew questions from advocates of the new law, including John Ruoff, program director for South Carolina Fair Share, an advocacy group. Ruoff said the new law will add between $470 million to $687 million in additional costs by 2019 depending on what study is used.

The $3.2 billion figures comes from an actuarial study done last year for the state’s chief Medicaid agency and is the total state impact through the year 2023, a spokesman for the agency said.

Ruoff said he believes the $470 million, though it is as of 2019, is the most realistic number because he said it is based on the addition of 344,000 to the state’s Medicaid rolls. He said if the state opts out of the new’s law’s mandates, it will be leaving $10 billion the law would bring to the state’s economy.

Frank Knapp, president of the South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce, said one mandate has little relevance to the state. Almost 97 percent of the state’s businesses wouldn’t have to buy health insurance under the new law because they employ 50 or fewer workers, he said.