S.C. Dropping The Ball In Covering The Uninsured

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From The Post & Courier:

Panel’s delay could limit health care options

Federally managed insurance marketplace looking likely

By Renee Dudley

Friday, July 1, 2011

COLUMBIA — A panel charged with shaping how South Carolina implements federal health care reform met Thursday but postponed discussion of key decisions — a delay that has some critics worried the state won’t hit federally imposed deadlines.

Members of the S.C. Health Planning Committee, formed by Gov. Nikki Haley’s March executive order, avoided the topic of who should manage the online marketplace where uninsured residents will buy coverage beginning in 2014: the state or the federal government.

The group, which must answer that question and a variety of others related to setting up the so-called “health insurance exchange,” must submit its recommendations to the governor by late October.

If the state has not established its own exchange by the end of next year, officials from the federal Department of Health and Human Services will take over, according to the Affordable Care Act.

The S.C. Health Planning Committee’s delays make it likely the state will default to a federally managed exchange — a decision other states already have made.

Some lawmakers and advocates have said, though, the state should take charge because it could handle residents’ needs more effectively than the federal agency. Some legislators, including Rep. Dwight Loftis, a Greenville Republican, said they bristle at the idea of ceding exchange authority to the federal government — even as they oppose health reform.

Tony Keck, director of the state Department of Health and Human Services, confirmed Thursday the state would seek no additional federal dollars for setting up an exchange after the $1 million in federal funding to plan for it is spent. All exchanges must be able to operate without federal assistance by 2015.

Four subcommittees made up of patient advocates, insurers, legislators, state officials and others will meet throughout July and August to discuss information technology, transparency and consumer protection, among other issues. The four sub-groups will write their own reports that will be consolidated into a final policy recommendation submitted to the governor.

“I’m concerned,” said Columbia health care consultant Lynn Bailey. “Those subcommittees have a lot of work to do.”

South Carolina Planning Committee

Members of the S.C. Health Planning Committee:

  • Gary Thibault, project manager and committee chairman
  • Casey Fitts, Charleston surgeon appointed by the president pro tem of the S.C. Senate
  • Sen. Michael Rose, appointed by the Senate president
  • Rep. David Mack, appointed by the speaker of the S.C. House of Representatives
  • Rep. Bill Sandifer, appointed by the House speaker
  • Tony Keck, director of the S.C. Department of Health and Human Services
  • David Black, director of the S.C. Department of Insurance
  • Tim Ervolina, president at United Way Association of South Carolina; a position reserved for a consumer or nonprofit group and appointed by Gov. Nikki Haley
  • Evelyn Perry, small-business employer appointed by Haley
  • Mike Vasovski, Aiken physician appointed by Haley
  • Tammie King, Columbia insurance agent appointed by Haley
  • Will Shrader, senior vice president at Blue Cross Blue Shield of South Carolina appointed by Haley

Reach Renee Dudley at 937-5550.

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