Protecting South Carolina from Obamacare


As the 120th session of the South Carolina General Assembly kicks off, the decisions to implement (or not implement) portions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, will be at the forefront of debate in the Statehouse. Just one piece of this huge law – an expansion of Medicaid benefits – would cost South Carolina taxpayers $1.7 billion through 2020; not to mention the loss of their healthcare freedom.

The good news about this, however, is that some of the most crucial elements of the law depend on the states for implementation. With the authority to block some of the most damaging parts of this legislation, lawmakers need to focus on protecting South Carolina’s freedoms.

Thirteen states have already begun efforts to keep Obamacare out to the fullest extent possible. These states – including Arizona, Missouri, and Oklahoma – have all passed some version of the Healthcare Freedom Act, which makes it against state law for employees and any agents of the state to enforce penalties on employers or individuals for not purchasing health insurance.

A bill (H.3101) pre-filed in the House of Representatives this year seems to have been written with the purpose of blocking implementation of Obamacare in South Carolina. Our analysis of the legislation concludes that the bill, while comparable in some respects to bills passed in Arizona, Missouri, Oklahoma, and elsewhere, could be strengthened by the addition of several provisions.

A bill that would (a) be able to pass as legislation and be upheld by the courts and (b) protect our state from Obamacare to the greatest extent possible would need to include the following provisions:

  • Providing that South Carolina citizens cannot be compelled by law to participate in any healthcare system, as is stated in Arizona’s Health Insurance Reform Amendment of 2010.
  • Also as in Arizona’s law, providing that a citizen of South Carolina can pay directly for health services without being subject to fines and penalties and that health care providers can accept direct payment for health services without being subject to fines and penalties.
  • Prohibiting federal and state employees under penalty of law from enforcing provisions of the Affordable Care Act that violate the two provisions given above.
  • Stating that insurers are not required to take payments that may trigger a penalty.
  • Finally, providing that any insurer that accepts remuneration from the federal government which would trigger a penalty that violates the first two provisions given above would have its license suspended by the state.

(Download this fact sheet.)

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