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.
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