Letters to the Editor

Davis budget proposal generous to Medicaid

Included in your Sunday article "Last Week in the South Carolina Legislature" was a summary of a Senate debate on Medicaid. It correctly noted that I called for a slowing in the growth of Medicaid spending and a rebate of tax dollars to taxpayers, but then provided a misleading version of an exchange I had with state Sen. Larry Martin, R-Pickens.

Last year the legislature appropriated $724.9 million to our state's health care program for people and families with low incomes and resources (commonly known as Medicaid). The budget under consideration last week by the Senate proposes to increase that appropriation to $917.2 million, an increase of 26.6 percent.

A 26.6 percent appropriation increase is unprecedented and, I think, excessive, and I have proposed an amendment to lower it by $100 million. The $100 million would be rebated to taxpayers, but the appropriation for Medicaid would still increase by 12.8 percent. I have studied our state-run health care program and am convinced that a 12.8 percent increase will meet expenses.

Sen. Martin believes the appropriation must increase by 26.6 percent, and he and I were debating that point when I said the "so what?" quote attributed to me in the summary. But I was not, as the summary implied, somehow suggesting that families and children who recently qualified for Medicaid should go begging. My point was that a 12.8 percent increase was sufficient to cover them and other program enrollees, and it is.

State Sen. Tom Davis