One Lawmaker Kills a South Carolina Health Care Consolidation Plan That Had a Lot of Support

One Lawmaker Kills a South Carolina Health Care Consolidation Plan That Had a Lot of Support

COLUMBIA, SC — A bill that would have merged six South Carolina health care agencies was passed by both houses of the General Assembly by large margins. However, it was killed on the last day of the session, Thursday, because a member was upset that his peers were making fun of him.

Rep. Josiah Magnuson, a Republican, has been against the bill from the beginning. He says it would make a healthcare czar who could rule like a dictator if there was another pandemic situation like COVID-19.

When the House needed to pass the bill one last time just minutes before the end-of-session deadline at 5 p.m. Thursday, Magnuson spoke out against it and refused to give in. He did this even though bill sponsor and Republican Sen. Tom Davis got into a heated argument with other party members, which made many people in the chamber stop and watch and had security guards hovering nearby.

After the session was over, Magnuson said he was hurt that he and the other members of the Freedom Caucus—about 15 of the most conservative House members—had been made fun of all week.

Magnuson said that a coworker had a doll that looked just like him and had bright red hair. The puppet wore a tin hat with a Freedom Caucus sticker on it.

He said Davis had only offensive things to say about the group that tries to stop bills and use social media posts that other Republicans say aren’t clear or are meant to mislead to get what they want, which isn’t what most Republicans in the House want.

As Magnuson put it, “They have basically made fun of me.” “They have completely lost any credibility they had with me.”

The bill comes after the state Department of Health and Environmental Control was split up last year, with the environmental duties being given to its own department.

A new Executive Office of Health and Policy would have been made by the 2024 plan. It would have brought together the different groups that are in charge of South Carolina’s Medicaid program, programs that help seniors and people with mental health issues, public health, and programs that help people who abuse drugs or alcohol. The merged body would have been part of the governor’s cabinet.

In his State of the State address, Republican Gov. Henry McMaster backed the bill. The head of the Republican Senate Finance Committee, Harvey Peeler, really wanted it to happen, and the speaker of the Republican House, Murrell Smith, agreed. There were 44 votes in favor, one against, and 98 votes against in the House.

After the gavel fell, Davis stormed back into the room and told Peeler what had happened. The people who work in both rooms shook their heads.

As Davis put it, “I want to give the people of South Carolina good health care options.” “And there were some people in the House today who let down the people of South Carolina because of small political differences.”

The bill had some rough spots. Some more conservative senators tried to add on bills that would stop companies from making their workers get vaccines that haven’t been approved by the federal government. This was an issue from the COVID-19 pandemic that was still being heard.

Some people didn’t agree with their view that the new head of the larger health care agency could get almost unlimited power to detain, require vaccines, or arrest people who didn’t follow orders during a health care emergency. People who backed the bill said that wasn’t possible.

The Freedom Caucus saw the death of the health care bill as a victory. This group often feels left out of the best committee positions and like their ideas don’t get anywhere in committee or on the House floor.

The head of the Republican caucus, Rep. Adam Morgan, said the plan was bad from the start.

As Morgan put it, “Sometimes your bills die.” “You win silly prizes by playing stupid games.”

Smith said that when people in the Freedom Caucus act in this way, it doesn’t help their cause because most progress is made when everyone works together. He said that the bill would stay a top priority and that the General Assembly would be back sooner than some people think.

“It will take six months longer than planned, but I don’t think that will stop us from doing anything,” Smith said.

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