COLUMBIA, SC (WMBF) - Gov. Mark Sanford says South Carolina will not operate a new, high-risk health insurance pool for people unable to get private coverage.
Sanford said Friday the Obama administration's new federal program would unfairly strain taxpayers and small businesses in an already cash-strapped state.
The high-risk pools for people unable to get private insurance are part of federal health care reform signed last month by the president. States have until the end of the day Friday to tell Washington if they'll operate their own pools or defer implementation and oversight to the federal government.
Sanford did so Friday morning in a three-point argument against the president's health care plan.
"While the debate over this misguided government takeover of health care may be over for now, this unfunded mandate and high risk pool deadline forced upon the taxpayers of South Carolina will have costly consequences that I feel duty-bound to oppose," Sanford said. "In fact, for states like South Carolina this represents nothing more than a Faustian bargain from the Obama Administration to cajole, and if necessary compel, states that are already struggling through painful budget cuts to dedicate yet more down the road to a health care system that erodes liberty and individual responsibility while at the same time empowering bureaucrats in Washington D.C. and spending yet more money we don't have."
Sanford said the state cannot afford a mandate that could cost taxpayers and small businesses millions.
"The federal government has only allotted enough money to pay for the program for one or two years," he explained. "After that the states would be forced to pick up the tab."
Sanford said given the Palmetto State's budget constraints, the federal mandate is not feasible.
The governor also noted the plan's mandate to require businesses with 50 or more employees who don't offer health insurance coverage to pay $2,000 in annual fines for each full-time employee, adding to their tax burden and forcing them to cut staff.
In his final argument against ObamaCare, Sanford said the high risk pool pushes the state's neediest residents toward irresponsibility.
"There are currently 2,000 participants in South Carolina's already existing high risk pool who would not qualify for the new pool unless they drop coverage for six months, thus setting up some of our neediest citizens for ruin," he said. "At the same time, those who carry insurance will still have to pay their premiums while supporting the high risk pool with their federal tax dollars.
"In short, we will not implement this unfunded federal scheme," Sanford added. "In fact, we continue to believe that ObamaCare violates the principle of federalism and will, at the end of the day, force states and taxpayers to foot the bill for this reckless federal experiment."
Republican governors in Nebraska and Nevada already have opted out of participating in the plan. Both states and South Carolina are part of a lawsuit seeking to overturn health care reform.
Copyright 2010 WMBF News. All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.