SC gov joins group of governors declining Obama state health plan

COLUMBIA, SC (WCSC) - By Bob Behanian  bio | email

MT PLEASANT, SC (WCSC) - SC Gov. Mark Sanford says South Carolina will not operate a new, high-risk health insurance pool for people unable to get private coverage.

From a Doctor's Care facility in Mt. Pleasant, Sanford made his argument, complete with charts and graphs he has become known for in his tenure as governor.

"We will not set up a high risk pool as a part of the larger health care package coming out of Washington D.C.," said Sanford.

Sanford said Friday the Obama administration's new federal program would unfairly strain taxpayers and small businesses in an already cash-strapped state.

"For states like South Carolina this represents nothing more than a Faustian bargain from the Obama Administration to cajole, and if necessary compel, states that are already struggling through painful budget cuts to dedicate yet more down the road to a health care system that erodes liberty and individual responsibility while at the same time empowering bureaucrats in Washington D.C. and spending yet more money we don't have.

The governor said Friday in a release the program proposed by Obama is not feasible under the budget constraints the state faces. The state Legislature only hours prior in a late-night legislative session passed the state's notably pared-down $5 billion budget.

The high-risk pools for people unable to get private insurance are part of federal health care reform signed last month by the president. States have until the end of the day Friday to tell Washington if they'll operate their own pools or defer implementation and oversight to the federal government.

"In short, we will not implement this unfunded federal scheme. In fact, we continue to believe that ObamaCare violates the principle of federalism and will, at the end of the day, force states and taxpayers to foot the bill for this reckless federal experiment," said Sanford.

Republican governors in Nebraska and Nevada already have opted out of participating in the plan. Both states and South Carolina are part of a lawsuit seeking to overturn health care reform.

Even if South Carolina opts out of creating this pool, residents can still sign up with the plan. The governor says he looking out for the state's best interest as a whole.

"But the difference is by not setting up with the plan we don't put ourselves on the hook for the bill," said Sanford.

Sanford said he believes at least 12 other states will follow SC's lead and reject the federal government's new health care law.

Copyright 2010 WCSC. All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.