updated March 7
Senators debated a measure this week to slow the implementation of the Affordable Care Act in S.C.
Tying vocabulary like “aid and abet” to the implementation of the federal ACA, Sen. Tom Davis introduced an amendment to the nullification bill, which passed the House last year.
But the Beaufort Republican said his amendment isn’t nullification, a measure that states take to actively prevent federal laws from moving forward. The House nixed provisions for enforcing the nullification measure just before passing it.
Responsible for finding a legal avenue to slow the implementation of the federal legislation, Davis drew up his “anti-commandeering” measure. “We’re not nullifying anything,” he told senators. “There’s nothing in here that even hints at that at all.”
Davis said the state can’t block the federal law, but it doesn’t have to help it along either. “[The federal government] depends on the complicity and cooperation of the states,” he said.
The state legislation prevents the expansion of Medicaid and bars the state from creating a health care exchange–two provisions of the federal law that Gov. Nikki Haley’s administration has rejected.
Davis’ amendment would also require public hearings and a vote by the legislature for state agencies applying for a grant connected to the ACA. And it would regulate navigators, who facilitate signing up for insurance under the federal law.
But Democrats said the measure was, indeed, nullification. Sen. Marlon Kimpson, D-Charleston, said, “the state of South Carolina is thumbing its nose at federal supremacy.” The freshman senator said he was concerned about the message S.C. would be sending to the rest of the country.
Davis said his amendment also aims to ask the governor to spread the legislation to other governors. His goal is to slow the implementation of the law until citizens can elect a Congress that will repeal it.
The Senate took no action on the bill this week.