Rep. Sanford discusses Obamacare changes as Oct. 1 looms

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- One of the biggest pieces of the health care reform law -- the health insurance marketplaces -- is set to go live in just a few days.{}

The exchanges are designed to offer competing health insurance options for Americans who do not have insurance or whose insurance is deemed unaffordable.

Some Republican members of the House, including Mark Sanford, are working hard to prevent it from taking effect, though. On Monday afternoon, Sanford discussed the law commonly referred to as Obamacare and the risk of a potential government shutdown.

"I have never had a single issue that comes up as much as this one does. I've spent a lot of time in politics over the years," Sanford said. "I've never had a single issue wherein I heard as much conversation."

The Affordable Care Act aims to lower out-of-control medical costs and emergency room visits by focusing on preventive care and having more Americans opt into the program.

It's that cost of coverage, however, that Sanford and others say is just too expensive for small businesses.

"There's a gulf of what they intend to do and what they actually do. And in this case if you look at the assumptions in terms of healthy folk enrolling, I don't think it's going to happen," Sanford said.

"And if it doesn't happen, the numbers on this thing go berserk and what you are looking at is a huge tax increase for working South Carolinians."

Last week, Sanford and other GOP House members voted to pass a short-term federal spending plan that would leave out federal funding for Obamacare.

"We have just a couple of weeks before this thing gets implemented, and if people tell you they don't want to see it implemented - and this is one of the last trains leaving the station to raise that debate - I think you've got to raise it," he said.

If the GOP-backed continuing budget resolution is not passed and the debt ceiling is not raised, integral parts of the federal government would be temporarily shut down, potentially leaving already cash-strapped government and military employees out of work.

"The House of Representatives isn't voting to shut down the government," Sanford said. "What they are voting for is 'Wait a minute, if we are going to give members of Congress an exemption, if we are giving UPS an exemption, if we are giving the teamsters an exemption, why aren't we giving the American public an exemption?'"

It's an issue that has Republicans and Democrats at odds yet again and one he expects will carry over into the next fiscal year.

People have the opportunity to enroll in the marketplaces by Dec. 15, but the plans for coverage do not take effect until Jan. 1, 2014.

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