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11 Arrested For Blocking Street At SC Statehouse

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Handcuffed protesters wait to be taken to police cars outside the Statehouse. Handcuffed protesters wait to be taken to police cars outside the Statehouse.
COLUMBA, S.C. -
11 people were arrested Tuesday outside the South Carolina Statehouse after they blocked the entrance to the underground parking garage. Those arrested are members of a group called Truthful Tuesday, which has been protesting the state’s refusal to expand Medicaid.

The protesters wanted to get arrested and alerted members of the media Monday evening that they would be blocking the Statehouse garage entrance.

"I'm prepared to be arrested as an act of civil disobedience to protest the hateful, vicious, crazy decision of the South Carolina legislature to turn down Medicaid funding,” said Pat Jobe, the minister of the Greenville Unitarian Universalist Fellowship. He was one of the protesters arrested.

Fellow protester Jerry Moore says he can’t understand why state lawmakers decided against expanding Medicaid to give health coverage to more people. “It's estimated that around a thousand people will die because they will not be able to get insurance at all, if we don't do this,” he says.

South Carolina is one of 19 states not expanding Medicaid. The federal government will pay 100 percent of the cost of the expansion, and then states will have to start paying a small percentage starting in 2018. The percentage will increase but will not be more than 10 percent.

But Sen. Tom Davis, R-Beaufort, says he can’t support expanding Medicaid when the federal government is pledging to pay for it with money it doesn’t have. "What happens then if we expand our Medicaid population from 1.1 million people to 1.7 million people and the federal government says, 'Sorry, we can't afford to provide you any assistance anymore.' At that point in time we're forced to having to pay the bills ourself. We simply can't afford that as a state," he says.

The Senate has started debating a bill that, when it was originally introduced in the House, was supposed to “nullify” the federal Affordable Care Act. But Sen. Davis says it’s clear now that nullification is impossible. "The United States Supreme Court declared it constitutional. We understand it's the law of the land and the federal government has the right to implement it in South Carolina. I may not like it, and I don't, but that's a reality,” he says.

But he’s sponsoring an amendment to the original “nullification” bill that says the state could not be forced to use any of its tax money, resources, or state agencies to implement the Affordable Care Act. His amendment also says the state will not create a state-run health care exchange, and that the state will not expand Medicaid as part of the Affordable Care Act.

The protesters who were arrested were charged with blocking the road, which is a misdemeanor with a fine of $100.


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