South Carolina House Endorses Obamacare -- by Accident

by | February 14, 2017

By Cassie Cope

The GOP-controlled S.C. House of Representatives approved a 935-word resolution Tuesday urging new Gov. Henry McMaster to expand Medicaid, a basic tenet of Obamacare.

Except, it was an accident.

A day later, the House quickly passed a retraction.

S.C. House Speaker Jay Lucas took to the floor Wednesday to explain the mistake.

The resolution appeared congratulatory, Lucas said.

The resolution begins: "To congratulate the honorable Henry Dargan McMaster on assuming the office of governor of the state of South Carolina," before urging him to expand Medicaid, the joint federal-state program that pays for medical care for the poor and disabled.

"The resolution actually has some substantive portions in it that I did not announce to the body," Lucas said, adding he took responsibility for the error. "What happens up here is my responsibility."

The resolution's main sponsor -- state Rep. Joe Jefferson, D-Berkeley -- said the bill's retraction "probably happened for the best."

Congratulatory "resolutions do get read across the desk and passed unanimously without any discussion or debate," said state Rep. Russell Ott, D-Calhoun, a co-sponsor.

"Obviously, Medicaid expansion is a very contentious issue that has proponents and opponents, and so a resolution of that nature should have ... had the opportunity to be debated."

"It pays to read with comprehension," quipped state Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter, D-Orangeburg, another co-sponsor of the proposal.

"It just suggests that, sometimes, we should pay closer attention," she said, adding, "We should probably read beyond the third or fourth line of a resolution."

Cobb-Hunter said she was shocked when she was told the bill had passed. "For just a moment, it felt good to think we could have a conversation about expanding Medicaid in South Carolina."

Cobb-Hunter urged McMaster and GOP Speaker Lucas to consider a proposal she has introduced, similar to a Republican-backed Arkansas plan, that would cover more uninsured South Carolinians.

(c)2017 The State (Columbia, S.C.)