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Gov. Sanford urges citizens to get involved in Healthcare debate

By Gov. Mark Sanford
web posted March 18, 2010
GUEST OPINION – Given that all signs point to this week being the week a decision is made in Washington D.C. on healthcare reform, I ask South Carolinians - who will bear substantial costs if this legislation passes - to make their voices heard before the gavel falls.

It's worth noting that today, the Fifteenth of March, is remembered as the 'Ides of March'- a day of reckoning and foreboding. In the same way, today represents a time of foreboding for our nation given the historic nature of what is taking place in Washington.

Put simply, this healthcare legislation represents a trillion dollar government takeover of nearly one-fifth of the nation's economy. I believe it is a mistake both financially and medically, and that forcing this enormous healthcare plan on South Carolinians and Americans in general amounts to nothing less than Congressional malpractice. So we'd once again ask Representatives Clyburn and Spratt, for the sake of our state's budget and our taxpayers' wallets, to reconsider the damage this government takeover of health care will cause.

The U.S. Senate healthcare bill being considered this week expands South Carolina Medicaid rolls by over 60 percent, or 483,500 people. This would mean that nearly one in three South Carolinians will be dependent on Medicaid, the highest percentage ever in our state's history. This unprecedented expansion would cost state taxpayers at minimum an additional $687 million over the next decade and set us on a course that will grow Medicaid to over 40 percent of the state budget in just five years.

This legislation also impacts the state's pharmacy rebate program - costing the state up to $400 million over the next ten years - and changes the Medicare Part D "claw-back" payment that could cost state taxpayers up to $15 million over that same period. In total over the next decade, this healthcare legislation will boost South Carolina's Medicaid spending to over $21.58 billion with state funds alone - more than three times the estimated $6 billion in state funds spent on law enforcement over the next ten years. These numbers are untenable given our state's current budget challenges, and state legislators would be forced to either cut significantly in the areas of education, law enforcement and economic development, or raise taxes.

This week indeed represents a time for choosing on the healthcare front, and I'd once again urge all taxpayers to make their voices heard - in particular to Representatives Spratt and Clyburn, who at this point support this bill.

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