GOPocrisy, Republican-Fail — March 14, 2013 at 11:52 am

South Carolina turns down Medicaid expansion that would benefit 236,000 because President Obama is black


They said it, not me

South Carolina Republicans have decided not to expand Medicaid in their state as provided under the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”.) By doing this, they are turning down $11 billion in federal funds and risk the creation of upwards of 44,000 jobs.

Why did they do this? According Republican state House Representative Kris Crawford, it’s because President Barack Obama is black.

You think I’m kidding but I’m not. At a “white coats day” at the statehouse in late January, the South Carolina Hospital Association (SCHA) invited the good Representative to talk to them about the potential of passing legislation that would allow South Carolina to opt in to the Medicaid expansion, something the SCHA strongly supports. This was, in part, what they heard:

Doctors from across the state gathered in Columbia today to collectively lobby legislators to expand Medicaid eligibility under the Affordable Care Act.

White Coat Day was organized by the South Carolina Hospital Association and aimed to equip doctors to engage with their representatives and push for the state to accept federal money and expand the health program for lower income people.

About 75 doctors from across the state attended a meeting at the Statehouse.

Rep. Kris Crawford, a Republican from Florence and also an emergency room doctor, supports the expansion but expects the Republican caucus to vote as a block against the Medicaid expansion.

“The politics are going to overwhelm the policy. It is good politics to oppose the black guy in the White House right now, especially for the Republican Party,” Crawford said.

He encouraged the doctors to advocate the use of the budget to accomplish expansion of Medicaid, rather than passing additional laws.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. You read that and you’re thinking, “Well, Mr. Crawford seems like a decent sort. He actually supports the expansion of Medicaid in South Carolina and is simply reporting on the political challenges people like him face.” You might be right except that Mr. Crawford then proceeded to vote AGAINST H 3167 which failed to pass along party lines. Apparently Mr. Crawford is just another Republican without the courage of his convictions.

The doctors and hospitals certainly want it. Check out this awesome video the SCHA put out to encourage support for the expansion:

South Carolina Democrats are furious:

“Unfortunately Rep. Crawford made it clear that this was never about policy, and always about politics. And according to our Republican colleague, the President’s race was a factor. I thought those days were over. The people of South Carolina deserve so much better than this,” said Rep. James Smith (D-72).

Amanda Loveday, Executive Director of the South Carolina Democratic Party, said, “Obviously Rep. Crawford let politics overwhelm policy and agreed with his own comment ‘it is good politics to oppose the black guy in the White House right now.’ This wasn’t about race; this was about 44,000 new jobs, over a billion dollars pumped into our economy and health insurance for 250,000 more South Carolinians.”

Crawford, of course, has now gone on the defensive saying he wants South Carolina to create its own system. Here’s what has to say about it:

“The choice we faced (Tuesday in the House), either say ‘No’ or do exactly what Washington sent down, that’s no way to make intelligent policy,” said Crawford. “We’re going to come up with a smart solution for health care policy in this state, and I’m going to play a big part in that. This other stuff … frankly that’s a little irritating.”

“This other stuff” is a slew of online stories that focused on a quote attributed to Crawford, in late January, in a story in the Charleston Regional Business Journal. In that story, Crawford said, referring to both legislative policy in general and the coming vote on Medicaid expansion, that, “It is good politics to oppose the black guy in the White House right now, especially for the Republican Party.” {…}

“Look, this is not my first year in the Legislature,” said Crawford, who was elected to a fourth, two-year term in November. “I’m a GOP member. I accomplish my policy aims through my caucus, and certainly with consent of my caucus. I know that. We’ve passed the budget out of the House, and I’m now going to meaningfully embark on a discussion of health policy. I’m going to work hard on this. A bill will come out.”

Crawford said he expected to file a bill this session, perhaps this month. He predicted it would include some expansion of the state’s Medicaid program, and that it would include a compromise like the ones worked in other states where the Medicaid expansion was accepted but with waivers that limited the expanded rolls to a few years or placed some Medicaid qualifiers on other types of insurance.

Sure, why not do that and avoid the efficiencies of scale of a national program already in existence and already wildly popular? That makes so much sense.

Don’t ever let Republicans tell you they are for saving tax payer dollars, at least not in South Carolina. It’s moves like this that show them for the hypocrites that they are.

As my good friend Imani Gandy the Angry Black Lady put it:

If only the president would stop being black, poor people in South Carolina might be able to get some healthcare.


[CC Facepalm image credit: Cesar Astudillo | Flickr]