By Haley Hughes
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which is the subject of a case currently being heard in the U.S. Supreme Court, has the potential to put a significant burden on South Carolina’s state budget, according to District 25 Sen. Shane Massey.
Massey discussed the health care act, dubbed “Obamacare,” with five constituents Tuesday during a town hall meeting in Graniteville.
The federal statute, signed into law by President Barack Obama last year, will require individuals to purchase private health care insurance coverage if they’re not already covered. Plus, it will expand Medicaid, which is subsidized by the state, said Massey, a program that is growing at an “astronomical” pace on its own.
In his five years as a state senator, Massey said he has seen South Carolina’s portion of Medicaid grow more than 50 percent.
“Now, you take that and, in 2014, add Obamacare,” he said.
Currently, one-fourth of the state’s population is on Medicaid, Massey said. In 2014, 35 to 40 percent of the state’s population could be on Medicaid under the federal health care statute, he said.
“That money has got to come from somewhere, and there’s not a whole lot of places to get it,” he said.
Other topics of discussion ranged from current gas prices to virtual schools, which Massey said are gaining in popularity.
The South Carolina Virtual School Program, for instance, is a supplemental program to provide online courses for high school credit.
Kelly Hagens-Swart, whose son participates in a virtual school program, believes it is beneficial in many ways. She said she has seen and interacted more with her son’s teachers this year than she ever saw while he attended public school; the field trips are varied and enriching; and the program alleviates economic, staffing and scheduling issues.
“The best teachers in the state can go to students wherever they are,” Massey said. “It’s a pretty cool thing.”