In case you missed it:
More than 200,000 South Carolina residents have signed up for health care through the dreaded ‘Obamacare’ insurance exchanges, which are designed to make what was an extremely unpredictable private health insurance more market more like the employer market.
The new numbers mark a major increase from the 118,000 who signed up in the first cycle. The numbers released Tuesday indicate 58 percent of those who selected plans were new to the healthcare.gov system this cycle.
About 89,000 people who had the insurance at the end of last year either re-enrolled or were automatically re-enrolled. Of those, about 48,000 didn't go online and enroll, and it's unclear how many of those won't pay their first premium and get coverage.
About 88 percent of South Carolinians who signed up are eligible for tax subsidies to help pay their monthly premiums. Also, 34 percent of the applicants were younger than age 35.
To put that in perspective, remember that Gov. Nikki Haley set up a shame committee to “study” the feasibility of South Carolina setting up its own exchanges - while secretly declaring, before the committee had done its work, that there would be no state exchange. And remember that she has blocked about $16 billion, which could have led to the creation of 44,000 jobs, by refusing to expand the Medicaid program under the Affordable Care Act, leaving a few hundred thousand other residents without health insurance they desperately need.
Her actions on this issue would be laughable if they weren’t so serious.
And those decisions don’t just impact South Carolina in the aggregate, but the Myrtle Beach area in particular:
If the Supreme Court declares that subsidies, which have made health insurance affordable for millions of Americans in the individual market for the first time, should not apply in states that did not set up their own insurance exchanges, it’s a potentially double hit for places like Little River Medical Center.
“In 2014, my outreach team signed up thousands of people in our area who could not have purchased health insurance without the assistance of the subsidies,” Bondurant-Bell said. “The decision to discontinue subsidies would wreak havoc for residents of South Carolina who are now getting medical care that they would not have been able to get prior to the ACA.”
And if a provision of the ACA, which has provided billions of dollars for community health centers throughout the country — more than $6 million to Little River — isn’t renewed this fall, that could mean more than 7,000 patients “would lose access to care” and Little River could lose about 41 percent of its workforce, or roughly 98 jobs.
On this issue, political considerations have trumped everything else. That should infuriate us all.