Advocates ask SC legislators to expand Medicaid

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Advocates for expanding Medicaid say if legislators do not act, hundreds of thousands of poor South Carolinians will be left without health care coverage.

Representatives of groups who advocate for the poor, mentally ill, disabled and retired residents asked a Senate panel Thursday to approve expanding Medicaid under federal law. The panel did not debate the issue or take any action. No legislation yet exists.

In South Carolina, parents qualify for Medicaid if their take-home pay is up to 50 percent of federal poverty guidelines. The expansion would increase coverage to 138 percent and include childless adults. The new income limit would be roughly $15,400 for an individual and $30,650 for a family of four.

Gov. Nikki Haley opposes the expansion, saying the state cannot afford the eventual required costs.

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