COLUMBIA, SC — The state health plan, which covers almost 10 percent of the South Carolinas population, needs an extra $83 million to keep pace with the rising costs.
So who's going to pay it?
The State's Adam Beam with a little history lesson:
Two years ago, state lawmakers voted to pay for 100 percent of the increase, only to be overruled by Republican Gov. Nikki Haley and the State Budget and Control Board. But state workers and retirees sued and won.
Last year, state lawmakers again voted to pay for 100 percent of the increase. But, to soften the blow to taxpayers, they made state workers pay more to go see a doctor by increasing their co-pays.
This year, Haley who is running for re-election wants to increase co-pays again. But taxpayers would pay 100 percent of the premium increase, or $57 million.
Weve been consistent that the employee and employer should split the rising cost of employee health care, said Christian Soura, Haleys deputy chief of staff for budget and policy.
It's probably no surprise that lawmakers have not made up their minds yet.
I dont like the choices, said state Rep. Jim Merrill, R-Berkeley, chairman of the House budget subcommittee that oversees the state health plan. It is very difficult to balance picking up the added expense of health care when (state workers) also want pay increases.