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South Carolina Gov. Haley Tried to Deny Medicaid Expansion in Challenge Before Supreme Court

Web ExclusiveJune 26, 2015
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We are broadcasting from Charleston, South Carolina, as we turn now to look at the impact here of the the Supreme Court’s decision Thursday to uphold a key provision of the Affordable Care Act, preserving the health insurance coverage of millions of people and handing President Obama a major victory. On Thursday, the court ruled 6 to 3 that Obamacare recipients can obtain tax subsidies for health insurance in states that use federal exchanges. Right-wing plaintiffs had argued the law’s wording excluded some 7.5 million people in 34 states who get their insurance through federal exchanges, after their states declined to run exchanges of their own. For more, we are joined by Loreen Myerson, a representative of the South Carolina Progressive Network. She ran their Affordable Care Act navigator project.

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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman. We’re broadcasting from Charleston, South Carolina, right outside Mother Emanuel, the Emanuel AME Church, where on June 17th nine innocent lives were taken. Nine parishioners, nine people who were part of a Bible study group, were gunned down. The accused shooter, Dylann Storm Roof, said he was killing them because they were black.

Well, today we’re dealing with many issues in South Carolina. We want to look at the impact here of the Supreme Court’s decision Thursday to uphold a key provision of the Affordable Care Act, preserving the health insurance coverage of millions of people and handing President Obama a major victory. On Thursday, the court ruled 6 to 3 that Obamacare recipients can obtain tax subsidies for health insurance in states that use federal exchanges. Right-wing plaintiffs had argued the law’s wording excluded some seven-and-a-half million people in 34 states who get their insurance through federal exchanges, after their states declined to run exchanges of their own.

For more, we’re joined here in Charleston by Loreen Myerson, a representative of the South Carolina Progressive Network who ran their Affordable Care Act navigator project.

We welcome you to Democracy Now!

LOREEN MYERSON: Thank you.

AMY GOODMAN: Your thoughts on how what thousands of peopel have streamed into Charleston this weekend for, honoring the dead, how that connects to what you have been doing around healthcare?

LOREEN MYERSON: Oh, I think it’s a very easy connection. We have a governor in our state, Nikki Haley, who is one of the five lawsuit plaintiffs who chose, first, to deny our state Medicaid expansion, which would have provided free healthcare to the hundreds of thousands of South Carolinians earning less than the poverty line. And then she went after the subsidies that hundreds of thousands of South Carolinians depend upon to pay part of their share of their Affordable Care Act insurance. My feeling is, if our governor truly wants to honor the dead, she needs to expand Medicaid. She needs to bring healthcare, adequate schooling, good infrastructure to the very people that Senator Pinckney cared so much about.

AMY GOODMAN: And, in fact, the Supreme Court upheld Obamacare. What does that mean for South Carolina?

LOREEN MYERSON: It means good things. It means all of the people who are earning above the federal poverty line, who therefore qualify to receive subsidies to pay part of the cost of their copays and, more importantly, their monthly payments for the insurance—it means those folks are going to be able to keep the subsidies that make their insurance affordable.

AMY GOODMAN: And then, explain—for people who don’t know or for people who are in states where Medicaid has been expanded, explain what it means when a governor, like yours, Nikki Haley, says no to the Medicaid expansion. Who is paying for it, both literally, actually financially, and who pays for it not being here?

LOREEN MYERSON: We all suffer for it not being here. And ironically, we all pay for it, all healthcare consumers. And we are all healthcare consumers, whether we have insurance or not. All of us pay our own tax money to make up for the folks who do not have insurance. We pay for it in the costs of our healthcare when we go to the hospital. But what is most tragic is that because the federal government understood to make healthcare affordable—you can’t get blood from a stone. There is nothing affordable about any cost for insurance if you’re earning less than the federal poverty line. Medicaid expansion was supposed to provide healthcare for all those people who cannot afford copays.

AMY GOODMAN: And it was 100 percent paid for by the federal government?

LOREEN MYERSON: One hundred percent paid for.

AMY GOODMAN: And why did Nikki Haley say no?

LOREEN MYERSON: She does not like the president. She does not feel that it is worth it to accept something from the federal government.

AMY GOODMAN: And how many people does that affect here in South Carolina?

LOREEN MYERSON: Close to 300,000 people.

AMY GOODMAN: Can that change?

LOREEN MYERSON: Absolutely, that can change. All we need is for our Legislature, for our governor to agree to accept a check that’s virtually already been cut.

AMY GOODMAN: What do you think Reverend Pinckney would say if he were alive?

LOREEN MYERSON: I know what he would say. I knew Reverend Pinckney. He was a good man. He cared about people. He cared about South Carolinians. And he knew every single person deserves adequate healthcare.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to thank you so much, Loreen Myerson, representative of the South Carolina Progressive Network, ran the Affordable Care Act navigator project. That does it for our broadcast. I’m Amy Goodman, as we sit in front of Mother Emanuel, the Emanuel church in Charleston, South Carolina.

The original content of this program is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. Please attribute legal copies of this work to democracynow.org. Some of the work(s) that this program incorporates, however, may be separately licensed. For further information or additional permissions, contact us.

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