Reeling from the impact of Hurricane Irene, South Carolina has not lost sight of opposing federal health care reform. Tony Keck, head of the state’s Health and Human Serviced Department, announced Thursday that the state would be rejecting millions of dollars in federal grants that would have been used to help the state build a health insurance exchange. The exchange would have helped residents of the state find affordable insurance coverage and, theoretically, reduce the overall cost of insurance policies within the state as insurers fought for customers.
South Carolina is the most recent state to refuse federal money, citing concerns that accepting the money will indebt the state to the federal government. Without the funds, the state is unlikely to meet deadlines imposed by the federal government. The first deadline comes in January of 2013, when states will have to submit their plans for exchanges to the Department of Health and Human Services. The final deadline comes a year later, when the exchanges must be fully operational and self-sustaining. If either of these deadlines are missed, the federal government will take charge of the exchange program.
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Keck noted that state agencies too often seek out federal money at the expense of their own goals. Keck is primarily concerned that, if the money were to be accepted, the state would be obligated to kowtow to the whims of the federal government.