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HALEY: South Carolina health requires local solutions

Obamacare hides the real problems

Nothing has changed since the Obamacare ruling was handed down a few months ago. Instead of providing real solutions, the law simply hides our problems from public view, enabling Washington to declare "victory" while continuing to ignore the real health challenges facing Americans.

Our health care system remains broken despite Obamacare spending almost $6 billion next year in South Carolina. President Obama wants to expand Medicaid, adding more than 500,000 in 2014. This would mean that almost 1 in 3 people in our state would be forced to receive government-run health care. South Carolina taxpayers would be saddled with $1.1 billion to $2.4 billion in new spending over the next seven years.

To hear President Obama tell it, all it takes to be healthy is a Medicaid card.

If that were true, South Carolina should be one of the healthiest states in the nation, as almost 1 in 4 South Carolinians received Medicaid last year. But it's not true -- in fact, far from it. We are ranked 46th.

Yet year after year, individuals, employers and taxpayers pour more and more into health care services. Every dollar more a family spends on health care is one less spent on something like a mortgage or a college fund. What an employer spends on health care is that much less spent on hiring, pay raises and investment. Anything the state spends on Medicaid means fewer funds available for other needs, including education, infrastructure and tax relief.

We simply can't support this. We are not going to jam more South Carolinians into a broken program, a program that stifles innovation; discourages personal responsibility; and encourages fraud, abuse and overuse of services that cost us billions of dollars.

The good news is that in South Carolina, in spite of most provisions of Obamacare, we are working with employers, hospitals, private insurers, doctors and patients on the real problems that affect the health and well-being of South Carolinians. Instead of just pouring money into Medicaid, we've been working to change the way we deliver care in our state.

This includes investing in primary care and patient-centered medical homes, serving more persons living with disabilities in their homes rather than institutions, focusing on key health problems such as infant mortality, reducing Medicaid administrative costs, encouraging payment reform and holding Medicaid health plans and providers more accountable for performance. If taxpayers are going to foot the bill, they deserve real results.

The president and congressional Democrats have shown time and time again that they simply don't believe states should be trusted to govern themselves. They believe in a one-size-fits-all federal approach that favors Washington special interests and Washington bureaucrats.

We couldn't disagree more. We think the only way to real health care reform is through local action, on the ground, that empowers patients and their doctors.

Consequently, we support block grants that hold states accountable for improvements in health but free us from useless federal red tape. We will continue to lead the way on physician and hospital payment reform, improvements in birth outcomes and cutting administrative costs. No matter what the federal government throws at us, South Carolina will continue to lead the ongoing national fight against Obamacare.

Gov. Nikki R. Haley is a South Carolina Republican. Anthony Keck is director of the South Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.

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