The Buzz

February 7, 2014

MORNING BUZZ: Agency seeks more money for caregivers to the disabled

The state Department of Disabilities and Special Needs is asking for an extra $500,000 to expand services for disabled people who live with caregivers that are 70 and older.

The Buzz

A blog from The State's political team of Cassie Cope, Jamie Self and Andy Shain. Email tips to

Children with severe disabilities are cared for by their parents.

But what happens when the parents get old?

The state Department of Disabilities and Special Needs is asking for an extra $500,000 to expand services for disabled people who live with caregivers that are 70 and older.

As of June 30, South Carolina had 1,100 people with sever disabilities living with parents or caregivers that were at least 70 years old. Of those, 450 caregivers were at least 80 years old.

In the Midlands, 300 disabled people live with caregivers that are at least 72.

The money would pay help care for an extra 100 people, agency director Beverly Buscemi said.

"It's kind of amazing, contacting somebody over the age of 72 about the possibility for a bed," Buscemi said. "They say, 'Oh, no, I’m not quite ready yet.' "

Happening today

Mignon Clyburn, a Federal Communications Commission commissioner and daughter of U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn of Columbia, is the guest at a noon reception at Paine College in Augusta.

Gov. Nikki Haley's public schedule today

2:15 p.m.: Tour a S.C. Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services office in Columbia

Happy birthday, Michael Haley

South Carolina's First Gentleman turns 44 today. (Where's our invite to the party?)

Gov. Nikki Haley and her husband, Michael

Nikki Haley says she's not 'furious' at Georgia, calls Peach State guv to apologize

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley said Thursday that she is not "furious" about how Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal handled the winter storm after her brother was stuck on an Atlanta interstate for 27 hours last week.

"This was not me being furious at Georgia," she said. "This was me being furious as a sister not being able to get to her brother. I don't want this to be a state-to-state issue. Gov. Deal did what he thought was best."

Haley called Deal on Thursday and apologized, said Brian Robinson, a spokesman for the Georgia governor. Deal accepted her apology.

"They’re good friends and good friends don't hold grudges," Robinson said.

Read the full story

Rah, rah Charleston University?

South Carolina could have a third large research university by the fall of 2016.

Lowcountry lawmakers introduced a bill Thursday that would merge the College of Charleston and Charleston’s Medical University of South Carolina, creating Charleston University.

If approved by the Legislature, the College of Charleston would be called Charleston University George Street Campus and MUSC would become Charleston University Medical Campus.

The state has two other large research universities, the University of South Carolina and Clemson University. MUSC also is considered a research school, though it does not offer undergraduate programs and concentrates on the medical field.

Read the full story

Poor obese patients can get more Medicaid help

The state’s Medicaid program will begin paying doctors and dietitians to treat poor obese South Carolinians as part of its continuing effort to tame its out-of-control health-care costs.

Now, South Carolina’s Medicaid program, which provides health insurance for the poor and disabled, only will pay physicians to treat obesity-related diseases, such as diabetes, and does not pay dietitians at all. But a new proposal would pay doctors to treat obesity, while also paying dietitians to work with patients to keep the weight off.

“In a nation that is getting fatter and fatter and fatter, South Carolina is among the fattest,” said Tony Keck, director of the state’s Medicaid program. “Even with all the money we have been spending over the past 20 years in terms of growth in health care, the country is slowly killing itself through obesity.”

Almost 32 percent of South Carolinians are obese, defined as having a body mass index of 30 or higher, a weight-to-height ratio used as an indicator of obesity. Among the roughly 1 million South Carolinians on Medicaid population, about 30 percent, or 150,000, are obese. Nationally, South Carolina is the eighth-fattest state, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Read the full story

Polls by candidates differ on whether Lindsey Graham faces a runoff

Two polls – one paid for U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham’s campaign and, the other, by Graham challenger state Sen. Lee Bright – differ on whether the Republican incumbent will beat his four GOP primary challengers in June by a margin wide enough to avoid a runoff.

The poll that Bright’s campaign paid for, conducted by Wenzel Strategies of Ohio, shows Graham getting 46 percent of the vote against his four GOP challengers – short of the 50 percent that the Seneca Republican would need to avoid a two-week runoff, where his opponents say he will be vulnerable.

However, a poll of likely GOP primary voters, paid for by the Graham campaign and conducted by North Star Opinion Research, said Graham would win more than half the vote in the primary.

Read the full story

Buzz Clicks

When do fetuses feel pain? : A state House panel heard testimony Thursday on a bill that would ban abortion at 20 weeks of pregnancy and later, providing an exception only to save the mother’s life. State Rep. Wendy Nanney, R-Greenville and the bill’s sponsor, says the abortion restriction – down from 24 weeks of pregnancy now – is necessary because science shows fetuses can feel pain at 20 weeks. Full story

Prisons chief nominee quizzed : A freshman S.C. senator let a powerful veteran senator know Thursday that he will ask questions about how mentally ill inmates are treated in state prisons – even if asked not to. The scene was a Senate Corrections and Penology Committee hearing called to discuss the recommendation that acting corrections director Bryan Stirling be named permanent director. Full story

More problems at Dorn VA medical center : The management of the Dorn VA Medical Center did a lousy job of keeping its operating rooms staffed and reacting to infection problems, according to a report from the Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General. The report, issued Thursday, comes less than a year after an even more scathing report on backlogs in the gastroenterology program at Dorn that led to several cancer-related deaths. The latest report doesn’t link problems to any deaths, but it does note that Dorn ranked 127th out of 128 VA hospital facilities in the country in health care-associated infections at one point in 2013. Full story

Dorn VA Medical Center

DHEC employee in induced coma after pit bull attack : An employee of South Carolina's environmental agency is in a coma after he was attacked by a two pit bull dogs in Dillon County. Full story

Upstate tow truck company gouged customers during storm : The owners of an Upstate towing company are accused of price gouging during a recent winter storm that brought snow and ice to the area. Authorities say one woman was charged more than $1,100. Another person was charged nearly $900. Full story

Drawing the (state) line : A commission put in charge of re-drawing the state line between North Carolina and South Carolina is ready to discuss legislation to minimize the impact of their work. Full story

Do students have to make up those snow days? : Some state lawmakers want to give local school leaders the ability to decide whether students will have to make up snow days from last week. Full story

First candidate announces for Patrick's House seat : Hilton Head Island financial adviser Jeff Bradley says he will run for the state House of Representatives seat currently held by Rep. Andy Patrick. Full story

Running again : Bob Walker, a former state representative, announced Wednesday he will run for Spartanburg County Council. Full story

DOT employee charged with embezzlement : An S.C. Department of Transportation employee was charged with embezzling public funds Thursday, accused of using a state gas card to fuel his car in Beaufort, according to an arrest warrant. Full story

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