Sen. Harkin asks for investigation into Nikki Haley on health insurance exchange

Governor Nicki Haley of South Carolina is in hot water over emails deleted by her office. The Charleston Post and Courier uncovered the deleted emails after asking for emails from both her office and the state Department of Health and Human Services. The emails returned from the Department showed responses from the Governor which had been omitted from records her office turned over and were later found to be deleted.

The emails in question detailed how the Governor planned to handle an appointed committee that was tasked with drafting the state’s health insurance exchange plan. Health insurance exchanges are required for states under federal health care reform law. Any state that does not build its own exchange, will have a generic, federally administered exchange.

As CivSource reported earlier this year, Governor Haley decided to reject any future funding from the federal government for a health insurance exchange – calling health care reform a, “spending disaster.”

According to the Post and Courier: “the March emails, Haley and her top aides discussed the Health Planning Committee before the panel met for the first time. The committee’s eventual findings mirrored Haley’s email directive that “the whole point of this commission should be to figure out how to opt out and how to avoid a federal takeover, NOT create a state exchange.”

Now, Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) is pushing for a federal investigation into Haley’s response to the health insurance exchange requirement. Harkin wrote a letter to the inspector general of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services asking about the overall cost of the panel and whether or not the Governor used taxpayer funds for political purposes.

South Carolina accepted a $1 million federal grant to start work on their exchange but the emails uncovered by the Post and Courier put into question whether the Governor ever had any intention of objectively examining the exchange.

Governor Haley originally issued an Executive Order charging the committee to study, “whether or not the state should establish a health insurance exchange.” An order which now seems in direct conflict with the directive issued in her emails.

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