Even though the highest court in the U.S. rule the Affordable Care Act constitutional in June 2012, some Republicans aren’t backing down when it comes to blocking the president’s signature legislation from being implemented.
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Lawmakers in South Carolina are working to pass legislation that would eliminate the ACA in the state. The “South Carolina Freedom of Health Care Protection Act” was introduced in April, and passed in the state’s House of Representatives by a 65-34 vote in June. The bill was put on hold, but is expected to head to the GOP-led Senate around Jan.14, according to state Rep. William Chumley (R-Spartanburg). Chumley is a co-sponsor of the bill and is confident it will pass the Senate and be signed into law by Republican Gov. Nikki Haley.
“I am more optimistic today than I have been all along,” Chumley says, adding the sponsors have a rally planned on the 14th to spread awareness of the bill and vote. “I think people are starting to see what a disaster ObamaCare is and the impact it will have on their lives. They will pressure their senators to notice it too.”
At the heart of the bill is a prohibition of state agencies, officers and employees from implementing any part of health-care reform. The bill would outlaw state health-care exchanges and would instead issue tax deductions to individuals instead of the tax penalties they would face for not complying with the ACA. South Carolina is not sponsoring its own state health-care exchange, meaning residents must enroll via the federal exchange Healthcare.gov, which has been plagued with glitches since its initial rollout on Oct. 1.
Under the ACA, every individual in the country must have insurance by the end of open enrollment period or face a penalty of $95 a year or 1% of their annual salary, whichever is higher.
If signed into law, the move in South Carolina could effectively spread to other states, a trend Chumley is confident will occur.
“This sets a precedent that ObamaCare will be an economic and personal disaster,” he says. “I think more states will join us and we will be successful in severely limiting the law.”
But Henry Aaron, Bruce and Virginia MacLaury senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, doesn’t see more states taking similar action and says the ACA is good for the country.
“I do understand that there are people, for principled reasons, that object to the law. So far, they have not been successful politically, but they are still fighting.”
Aaron says that he takes primary issue with South Carolina’s bill giving tax credits to those who chose not to comply with federal law to cover the federally-imposed penalty.
“It provides negligible compensation for those who suffer federal penalties for violating the law of the land by forgoing valuable benefits to which they may be entitled,” he says. “Thousands of South Carolina residents are being told that if they forego federal tax credits [for health insurance] to which they are legally entitled, thereby harming themselves and incurring additional penalties, this law will give them a few cents for each dollar of penalty they incur.”
He says residents will just end up “injuring” themselves and their state for the sake of partisan politics.
While he disagrees with ObamaCare, Chumley admits the health-care system is flawed.
“No one would argue there are not problems with the system—it’s expensive and overregulated—but let’s not just destroy the whole health-care system in our country, instead we need to fix what is wrong with it,” he says. “I think once people understand what this is about [referring to the bill] I can’t imagine anyone who cares about future generations would want this much government control in our lives.”