I continue to be astounded over how close-minded our legislators and our governor are over the issue of expanding health care coverage to those who need it.
According to a recent report from Moody's, the bond rating agency, states that opt out of Medicaid expansion and have large numbers of uninsured residents will find themselves at even higher risk of budget shortfalls. Those states will have to choose whether to compensate for the shortfalls with state money or leave hospitals to absorb the costs. Our governor says we cannot afford the additional cost of Medicaid expansion, but it's clear we cannot afford not to participate in a program that is vital to the health of the people in our state.
If by not choosing to participate, the governor and our legislators think the hospitals can pick up the additional cost, they have their heads in the sand. Community hospitals, such as Beaufort Memorial Hospital, and public teaching hospitals, such as the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, already serve large numbers of uninsured patients. The numbers are continuing to increase with lower reimbursements for the care these people receive, resulting in smaller and smaller operating margins for providers. By not acting responsibly, you are forcing providers to close their doors to those who need care. That is unconscionable.