Gov. Nikki Haley dictated the conclusions of a committee charged with deciding how the state should implement federal health care reform before the group ever held its first meeting, public documents show.In short, Nikki Haley does not want a competitive market in health insurance. She is governor of Virginia in part to ensure that Virginians have to buy health insurance from an oligopoly that already exists and wants no competition.
Now, some of those involved in the dozens of meetings are calling the entire planning process a sham that wasted their time and part of a $1 million federal grant.
In a March 31 email thread that included Haley, her top advisers and the committee member who eventually wrote the report, Haley wrote, "The whole point of this commission should be to figure out how to opt out and how to avoid a federal takeover, NOT create a state exchange," which is eventually what happened.
A central part of the federal health care overhaul, an exchange is a marketplace where various insurance plans eventually will be sold.
The most recent progress reports filed with the federal government show the administration used about $109,000 of the $1 million grant through the end of November.
Crangle said the exercise was "not in good faith" and called it "an abuse of federal funds." State money also is at issue because state employees were on state time when they attended dozens of exchange planning meetings, he said.
Sue Berkowitz, an advocate for the uninsured who participated in planning discussions as executive director of S.C. Appleseed Legal Justice Center, said time was wasted.
"We came together and sat down for a lot of meetings in good faith that we'd explore every option and discuss what is in the best interests of the state," she said. "I'm frustrated that we were being used for something that wasn't an open, transparent discussion."
Insurance exchanges are the state- or federally-run marketplaces where health coverage will be sold to individuals and small business employees beginning in 2014. They are a key part of the federal health law.
Envisioned as the "Expedia" for health insurance, exchanges are intended to make purchasing health care easier and more affordable by allowing customers to compare options side-by-side.
They also are intended to be the place where residents who make between 133 percent and 400 percent of the poverty level will apply for and collect federal tax credits to buy coverage.
A state panel established by Gov. Nikki Haley recommended last month the state should not manage its own exchange. If Haley accepts the recommendations, South Carolina will join a handful of other states that already have declined to set up exchanges.
States that do not set up exchanges by 2014 will be subject to federally run exchanges.
Friday, December 16, 2011
This is the Republican approach to health care policy.