Pagett: Expanding Medicaid good for business, entire state

April 24, 2013 



— Expanding Medicaid is good for small business. Under ObamaCare, businesses with 50 or more employees will be required to provide health care for their employees or face a penalty. Medicaid will cover low-wage workers, allowing some employers to avoid the fines.

Workers making less than $15,000 per year, who would now qualify for Medicaid, will be healthier and more productive. I can tell you that any job paying less than $15,000 likely requires duties the boss won’t want to do if an employee calls in sick. Imagine a restaurant owner washing the dishes or a CPA standing on a street corner in a Statue of Liberty costume.

Opponents of expansion say we can’t afford our 10 percent of Medicaid costs. I believe we can’t afford not to participate. How does that 10 percent compare to the costs of using the emergency room as your primary source of care? Accepting the money to expand Medicaid is a good deal for South Carolina, and let’s face it, we need the help. According to a 24/7 Wall St. analysis, South Carolina ranks as the ninth poorest state, with 19 percent of our population living below the poverty line.

Yet the House has rejected a plan to expand Medicaid coverage for a half-million of our poorest citizens, voting instead to have the federal government distribute our money to other states, Senate President Pro Tem John Courson predicted a similar fate in the upper chamber. “With the House vote by that large of a margin and the governor has consistently (said) she will veto it, I think the chances are nil in the Senate,” he said. “Too strong a headwind is coming from the chief executive and the House of Representatives.”

I know Sen. Courson to be a quintessential gentleman and elder statesman. He has an opportunity to lead and show that the Senate can rise above petty politics, set aside rigid political ideology and act in the best interest of all South Carolinians. A little political “headwind” shouldn’t prevent this former Marine from leading from the front and acknowledging that expanding health-care coverage for the most vulnerable in our society is the moral thing to do. Especially when the feds are paying the bill for the first three years and 90 percent of the cost thereafter.

James R. Pagett Jr.


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