On the campaign trail, Gov.-elect Nikki Haley talked about challenging federal healthcare reform. Much like the state’s unemployment rate hounded Gov. Mark Sanford, it would appear that healthcare will be an issue Haley will be forced to wrangle over her time in office.

In his interview Sunday on Meet the Press, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C, said the new Congress will looking to put more power in the hands of state leaders, arguing South Carolina can’t afford the Medicaid requirements that Washington is demanding.

In a larger story on 2011 issues we’ll be posting Monday, College of Charleston Political Science Professor Jeri Cabot tells City Paper that this may be the issue Haley needs to prove her executive credentials.

The governor elect made news by asking the president if South Carolina could opt out, but Cabot sees a larger opportunity to bring in ideas from other states while coordinating with the legislature and medical professionals. “Haley has an opportunity to show she can hammer out solutions,” Cabot says.

The governor will have to get to real issues like restructuring benefits, Cabot says, as opposed to simply stopping at consolidating agencies and firing bureaucrats. “If that’s all Haley does, she’s nothing but rhetoric,” Cabot says.

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