THE BUZZ: Certificate of need? More like a notice of confusion for all

ashain@thestate.comJuly 6, 2013 



  • The Buzz

    The Buzz is a look back at the week in South Carolina legislature by reporters at The (Columbia) State.

The state budget is once again in court, this time over a controversial decision to eliminate funding for the “Certificate of Need” program – the state process deciding when and where hospitals and nursing homes can operate.

Basically the law still exists, but the money to enforce the law doesn’t. So what are health care providers supposed to do?

It’s a mess – which means the finger-pointing has begun in earnest, hidden behind carefully worded news releases. But don’t worry, The Buzz is fluent in the language of politics, so we will interpret.

The governor: Gov. Nikki Haley hates the Certificate of Need program. Lexington Medical Center was once involved in a bitter (and expensive) Certificate of Need fight. Haley once worked for Lexington Medical Center. Read into that whatever you want.

The Legislature: House Republicans, in a news release, said they “did not intend to eliminate the CON Program.” Really? That’s interesting considering YOU ELIMINATED ALL OF ITS FUNDING. What did you think would happen? State workers would continue to process certificate-of-need applications as a hobby? It’s not stamp collecting.

DHEC: The state agency that runs the program asked lawmakers for an extra $800,000 to run the program – but after Haley vetoed it, DHEC did not ask lawmakers to override it. DHEC spokesman Mark Plowden said: “We are a regulatory agency, not part of the Legislature.”

That’s true. But last time we checked, DHEC has people lobbying the Legislature, just like every other state agency. Would it have killed you to make your case to lawmakers instead of making it to the state Supreme Court?

Is Haley on the job?

Haley announced the state fetched nearly 1,000 new jobs last month, but a new report says Haley is lagging in private job growth since she took office.

Haley placed 34th out of 45 governors in a Business Journals report ranking state CEOs based on the state’s annual private job growth since taking office compared to the rest of the nation. Five governors who entered office this year, including Pat McCrory of North Carolina, were not in the ratings.

South Carolina added 48,400 private jobs since Haley entered the Governor’s Mansion in 2011, but the state’s annual growth rate of 1.39 percent was lower than the 1.99 percent posted in the rest of the country, the report said.

South Carolina would have added 20,900 more private-sector jobs if the state matched the average national growth over the past two years, the Business Journals said.

North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple topped the rankings by having a growth rate more than 5 percentage points higher than the average for the rest of the nation since taking office.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry ranked second Nathan Deal . Wyoming Gov. Matthew Mead ranked last.

Haley’s office looked ahead rather than behind when asked about the report.

“The hands-on approach Gov. Haley and (S.C. Commerce Department Secretary Bobby) Hitt have taken when it comes to bringing jobs to South Carolina – taking a personal interest in putting our people to work – is paying off: We’ve announced more than 35,000 jobs and $8.8 billion in investment since taking office,” Haley spokesman Rob Godfrey said.

A non-campaign campaign site

Nancy Mace started a website last week with a nice picture of her family, a short bio and a form so she can send folks information.

“If you’re interested in signing up for email, please do so here,” the first woman to graduate from The Citadel tweeted.

Email for what? Come on, Nancy, The Buzz sees what you’re setting up here.

This seems like a nifty spot to launch a U.S. senatorial campaign against Republican Lindsey Graham.

The Charleston PR consultant continues to be a favorite among Tea Partiers, but she remains undecided.

Acting up

U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn, South Carolina’s lone Democrat in Congress, has been tasked with a leadership role in pushing for the revision and revival of a key provision of the federal Voting Rights Act after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled part of the 1965 anti-discrimination law unconstitutional last month.

In a meeting with media recently in D.C., House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said she tasked Clyburn, the assistant Democratic leader from Columbia, “to take the lead on this issue, to bring together, in a bipartisan way, the ideas that could meet the criteria” acceptable to the Supreme Court for defining which states must seek federal approval for changes to voting rules.

Republicans claimed victory after the court struck down a formula the law uses to determine which states should be forced to seek federal approval for voting changes, releasing those states, including South Carolina, from that federal oversight.

The sound of silence

Haley was the S.C. legislative budget vetoes’ Jim Nantz last year providing play-by-play on House and Senate votes with more than 125 Facebook postings.

“Certain legislators are trying to switch votes on the vetoes we have won,” she wrote during the House veto votes in 2012. “Any legislator that changes their vote is being swayed politically and we will call them out for lack of courage of protecting the taxpayers.”

This year, she had no postings during the votes, though she offered a short summary the day after the General Assembly ended business for 2013.

The governor has appeared to try to ease relations with lawmakers. She didn’t issue a legislative report card in 2012 like had her first year in office.

Maybe it helped. Lawmakers sustained 35 of her vetoes – two more than last year – that wiped about $5 million from the budget, roughly $1 million more than 2012.

But her office told The Buzz to not read anything into it.

“Y’all spend way too much time trying to divine motivations from things,” Godfrey said. “Last year the governor had the time to do it. This year she didn’t. Nothing more, nothing less.”

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