Domestic violence advocates say health care bill could be ‘devastating’

GREENVILLE, SC (WSPA) – Victims of domestic violence are among those a local group says could be “devastated” by the proposed senate health care bill.

“Many victims of domestic violence have stayed home and taken care of their children and now are moving towards trying to provide for their children and they aren’t making money to be able to afford health care,” said Safe Harbor Executive Director Becky Callaham. “When a woman leaves a domestic violence home, many times she has no resources.”

Safe Harbor advocates for survivors and is speaking out against the legislation. An Upstate Republican leader says it’s too soon to make such claims.

“We keep hearing all this prognostication of doom and we haven’t even passed a bill yet,” said Spartanburg County Republican Party Chairman Josh Kimbrell. “So let’s see what’s going to happen here.”

The Senate health care plan cuts back federal funding for Medicaid.

“The folks who are uninsured are going to increase dramatically,” said Callaham. “Let’s say I’ve been living in a situation where I’ve been fearful and I’ve been able to leave and I may need medicine to help with anxiety.”

South Carolina constantly ranks among the worst states for domestic violence, and Callaham said access to affordable health care is an important part of the healing process for victims and their children.

“Those numbers are attached to individual people who we see on a regular basis that are having a hard enough time trying to figure out how to pay rent and put food on their table,” said Callaham. “To think they would not be able to have basic healthcare to me is an abomination.”

Kimbrell said parts of the bill could have positive impacts, and the concerns from the bill’s opponents may not be warranted.

“What I’ve encouraged fellow Republicans not to do are create a circular firing squad and start attacking each other and the bill until we know what’s in it,” said Kimbrell. “I’m reading through it myself and there are good things in it and bad things in it. The best part so far that I’ve discovered is that it ultimately reverts most health care decisions back to the state.”

Callaham said there could also be adverse effects of giving states like South Carolina more power in deciding who gets Medicaid coverage.

“South Carolina – we typically aren’t making as much money as the rest of the United States and the cuts to South Carolina are going to be even more because we depend on that federal government, especially with Medicaid,” said Callaham. “I’m afraid that in South Carolina when it’s left up to the states to determine how do we deal with this pot of money, that we’re going to have to be making a choice of who’s more important – children, seniors, people with disabilities?”

Majority leader Mitch McConnell insists he wants a vote before the Fourth of July recess leaving GOP leaders just a few days to win over more votes.