COLUMBIA — South Carolina’s director of Health and Human Services predicted Tuesday that the state will have an impassioned debate about how and whether it will respond to the new federal health care act.
HHS Director Tony Keck said the debate on expansion should move to the Statehouse, which he called a “proper” venue for such a complex issue.
“It should be a passionate discussion,” Keck predicted.
Keck spoke with a group of about 100 people, including representatives from the health care industry, state workers and those dealing with care for the needy and disabled.
He asked for their contributions in the debate, saying, “When you put a lot of heads around the table, you can do better analysis.”
“Then, even if we have a disagreement, we will know where we stand, we will know what those disagreements are,” the director said.
In June, the Supreme Court found the Affordable Care Act mostly constitutional, but it also said the states may decide whether to expand the Medicaid plan for the poor.
South Carolina’s actuaries estimated a year ago that if the health care plan were fully expanded, Medicaid rolls could increase by 510,000 people, costing between $1 billion and $2 billion extra between 2014 and 2020.
Keck said he hoped that the research and data that has been conducted by the state’s actuaries would be useful to all factions in the debate, no matter what their point of view on the subject.
“I’m inviting people to put their ideas up, to throw darts at it all,” he said after the session.
Gov. Nikki Haley has said she wants the entire law thrown out, and that she hoped the law will be repealed under a new administration. Haley endorsed Mitt Romney before South Carolina’s presidential primary in January and has campaigned for him both in and outside the state.