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Gov. McMaster vetoes potential healthcare study committee intended to consider Medicaid expansion

Gov. McMaster vetoes potential healthcare study committee intended to consider Medicaid expansion

Gov. Henry McMaster Wednesday vetoed a line item proviso that would have led to the creation of a legislative committee tasked with studying South Carolina’s healthcare market over half a year.

In the most practical terms, the committee, championed by State Sen. Tom Davis, R-Beaufort, would have studied whether adopting Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was right for the state.

But Davis was facing long odds in getting the committee past McMaster, the latter being in staunch opposition to expansion from the start. In his veto, the governor wrote:

“I believe that studying and working toward that goal is a worthy endeavor. However, I believe it requires more than a five-month treatment by a legislative study committee. In addition, I remain unconvinced that the expansion of Medicaid benefits – which this legislative study committee is tasked with considering – is necessary, nor do I believe it is fiscally responsible.”

McMaster also wrote that “access to quality affordable healthcare, much of which can be accomplished by unleashing competition through the free market, and by eliminating burdensome and anti-competitive rules and regulations.”

In a text, Davis addressed McMaster’s comment about not having sufficient time to study the issues, saying, “I think having a committee consider all the issues for six months would have been worthwhile, but I respect the governor’s decision.”

At the outset of the ACA, in 2010, Davis, too, was not a fan. But over time, Davis came to see Medicaid expansion as a valuable topic of consideration.

“As time has gone by,” he said earlier this year, “the CRS [Congressional Research Service] has given states more options to tailor [their Medicaid expansions]. There are more market-friendly options; and Republican states that have [expanded] did it with more flexibility.”

The veto nixed further conversation on expansion, at least for the remainder of this year, despite that despite strong support for expansion from groups ranging from the South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce to Cover SC.

With the veto, South Carolina remains one of 10 states that has not adopted Medicaid expansion.

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