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Medicaid coverage expansion in S.C. to cost $914 million

New federal health care legislation will cost the state of South Carolina and its taxpayers $914 million.

That cost — the total of spending from July 1 to 2019 — will come as the state adds 480,000 low-income children and adults to a state health insurance program, as required by the new law, according to estimates by the state Department of Health and Human Services.

The expansion represents a 4.4 percent increase in the $20.9 billion the state would have spent on Medicaid during that nine-year period, adding roughly $100 million a year to the state's costs.

With the state already facing a likely $1 billion budget shortfall next year, Republican lawmakers - who control the General Assembly - said the additional health care costs are one more reason they oppose implementing the law, which President Barack Obama signed Monday.

At the federal level, U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint, R-Greenville, has introduced a bill to repeal the new law. However, that effort faces a stiff uphill fight. Democrats control the U.S. Senate, and even if that 59-41 advantage could be overcome, President Obama, a Democrat, would veto any repeal bill.

At the state level, S.C. Attorney General Henry McMaster, a Republican gubernatorial candidate, has joined a lawsuit challenging the law as unconstitutional because it requires U.S. citizens to buy health insurance.

Bills challenging parts of the law also are working through the S.C. Legislature.

To read the complete article, visit www.thestate.com.

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