In the news

Healthcare for All South Carolina members are frequent contributors to local news on healthcare issues. Recent appearances can be found here.

Healthy SC an important step forward

By David S. Ball, RN
Charleston Post-Courier, April 27, 2015

Our legislators took an important step last week to improve healthcare in our state. Sen. Joel Lourie, D- Richland, with co-sponsors Cleary, R-Georgetown, Campbell, R-Berkeley, and Matthews, D-Orangeburg proposed that a public-private partnership to close the healthcare coverage gap between the working poor and other South Carolinians be included in the budget.

This recognition that the 194,000 South Carolinians who earn more than the 62% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) and qualify for Medicaid but less than the 100% of the FPL required to get Obamacare subsidies is important. In that group 171,000 are working, 26,700 are military veterans and their spouses, and 63,000 are low income “near elderly” not yet able to access Medicare.

Without access to healthcare we all suffer. In the next year, and EVERY year until we close the gap, between 1,000 and 1,300 of our family, friends, and neighbors will die. Those in the gap forgo preventative and primary care and must wait until their conditions are life-threatening. Then they go to the most expensive place for care, the Emergency Department, where treatment options are limited. Our medical centers are faced with the dilemma of turning away those without the ability to pay or providing unfunded care. For local resources like Bamberg Hospital they chose to keep giving to their community until they went bankrupt.

While the 194,000 suffer so too do their families, who struggle to care for them. The number one cause of personal bankruptcies is no longer related to mortgages or credit cards – it is unpaid medical bills. As our neighbors slip under the swell of medical debt they are no longer productive tax paying members of society, they become the needy. And those hospitals that have not yet been dragged down by the unfunded undertow must cover their costs somehow – so they pass the expense on as higher charges to those of us who can pay.

Demanding our federal tax dollars be returned to care for the poor makes good business sense. It returns our neighbors to healthy employees and tax paying citizens. It keeps our local hospitals open to provide services to all of us. It keeps our medical bills low while creating 44,000 new health-related jobs in our state that can’t be outsourced. Results in Arkansas and Kentucky show that closing the gap does not drain state taxes but in fact is a boon to the economy.

In the next few weeks we expect to see this bi-partisan group of senators return with new Healthy SC legislation to close the gap and improve the lives of everyone who lives and works in our state. The League of Women Voters believes that all Americans should have access to quality healthcare. We are proud to join AARP, SC Appleseed, the United Way, Columbia Urban League, SC Christian Action Council, the SC Small Business Chamber of Commerce and others as members of Visit the website to see how you too can help us close the gap.

Single-payer would work better in SC than private health-insurance system

By Emilio Perez-Jorge, M.D.
The State, April 14, 2015

You may have heard of the recent tense negotiations of a business agreement between the Lexington Medical Center system and BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina.

Until a final agreement was reached, a lot of patients, employees and doctors were left wondering what to do, as doctors would have risked being dropped from the “in-network” status and many patients would have had to pay extra to continue to see their regular doctors or else change doctors.

These troubled negotiations are just one example of the problems with our country’s private health-care system, but there is a solution that is not often heard in the regular media outlets. It is called single-payer health care.

There is a single-payer bill up for discussion in the S.C. House: the Palmetto Comprehensive Health Care Act (H.3726).

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Fight to curb Obamacare starts again in SC

By Andrew Shain
The State, January 22, 2015

COLUMBIA, S.C. - The fight to curb enforcement of the federal Affordable Care Act in South Carolina has started again in the State House.

The first panel hearing for a House bill - to make it a fireable offense for a public worker to help establish a state health insurance exchange or enforce rules that require people to have health insurance - was held Thursday before a standing room-only crowd.

South Carolina is not taking part in the expansion of the Medicaid insurance program for the poor and disabled under the federal health care law.

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Inflated costs of hospital care

By George F. Warren, M.D
Charleston Post-Courier, July 17, 2013

Several weeks ago, locally and nationally, a big story broke indicating there are huge differences in the amount charged by hospitals for the same procedure in the same area.

Many people shrug off the charges made for health care, believing their health insurance will pay the bill.

A patient comes face to face with the real health care industry only when health issues arise that result in a bill to the patient. In the past, doctors and hospitals cast a wide net in order to snag every possible insurance dollar.

Today, the same inflated net is used, but now it is snagging the patient’s dollar, too. The problem is even worse for the person with no insurance, who pays at least 70 percent of the inflated figure.

Read more here.

Expand Medicaid

By David Ball, R.N.
Charleston Post-Courier, June 12, 2013

In response to the June 5 story regarding the Affordable Care Act:

As a registered nurse for more than 20, years I look on in dismay as our health care system becomes more fragmented, inaccessible, and expensive. While the reasons are understandable, our problems have short-term fixes and long-term solutions.

Instead of embracing the achievements of the Affordable Care Act and improving it, our state leadership seeks the good old days of the 1830s when government had no involvement in health care financing and South Carolina ignored federal laws it did not like.

Read more here.

Physicians Have a Responsibility to Meet the Health Care Needs of Society

By Allan S. Brett, M.D.
As appeared in The Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics. A reproduced copy is available here.

In one of the televised debates among Republican primary candidates for the 2012 U.S. presidential election, moderator Wolf Blitzer presented this hypothetical case to candidate Ron Paul:

A healthy 30 year old young man has a good job, makes a good living, but decides - you know what - 'I'm not going to spend 200 or 300 dollars a month for health insurance because I'm healthy, I don't need it.' But something terrible happens, all of a sudden he needs it. Who's going to pay if he goes into a coma?

Paul, known for his libertarian views, initially responded that the patient "should assume responsibility for himself," and that he should have purchased a major medical policy before he became ill. But Blitzer pressed on, noting the reality that this particular patient has no insurance and needs life-saving medical care:

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A lesson from history

Single-payer health care makes sense, so let's do it

By Will Moredock
Charleston City Paper, June 24, 2009

For the first 200 years of its history, Charleston had no professional, full-time fire protection. Those with resources paid a fire insurance company, which would mount a large disk, or "plate," on the front of their customers' houses, with a company's insignia.


Health care in this country is much like Charleston's early fire protection. Some have insurance and some don't. Some get the medicine and care they need and some don't. The cost of insurance and the burden of the uninsured have become an economic threat to our economy and way of life. But where the rest of the industrialized world long ago adopted some form of comprehensive national health care, the United States continues to suffer under a 20th century health-care model in the 21st century.

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