S.C. Medicaid program a success
Under the various health care proposals now under debate, state governments will have a much larger role in providing health insurance to their residents. Medicaid expenditures in South Carolina could increase by $450 million under a leading House bill - that's more than half of what the state now spends on the program. And the proposal in the Senate would add an estimated 400,000 South Carolinians to the Medicaid rolls, with a potential cost to the state an additional $900 million. Now more than ever, we need a Medicaid program that works to keep people healthy and contains costs.
A recent letter from Dr. Oscar Lovelace published in The State praised a small regional Medicaid initiative called the Physician Enhanced Program. The main goals of that program were to establish a "medical home" for Medicaid members and to hold down costs. Despite Dr. Lovelace's claims, the program's track record was mixed at best. An independent study by the University of South Carolina found that in many cases it did not achieve savings over traditional Medicaid, where patients frequently change doctors and seek treatment in hospital emergency rooms for routine care.
The S.C. Department of Health and Human Services retained the best part of the program - matching patients with a medical home. We now have a Medicaid program where members can choose from several health plans that provide them with a medical home, but also one that holds those plans accountable for delivering high-quality preventive care in a cost-effective manner. Today, expensive hospital visits are on the decline, and thanks to our new program, more than 428,000 South Carolinians have a medical home, compared to only 5,000 who were served through the Physician Enhanced Program.
If we're to face the very real challenges of a massive Medicaid expansion, South Carolina needs to build on recent successes instead of continually looking to failed experiments for answers.
Director, Department of Health and Human Services
Governor responds to story on first lady
I've put this note away several times, but the thought that this is getting silly, even mean, has been the recurring theme that has run through my mind after reading the Oct. 1 headline, "Jenny Sanford to skip cancer walk."
How that is front-page Metro news is beyond me as she sometimes went and sometimes didn't over the past seven years. What strikes me as more newsworthy is the number of times that Jenny put in untold hours in first lady's activities - and yet how rarely they would garner the media attention that she, and other organizers of nonprofit events, would have hoped to draw.
I've learned a lot about grace over the last few months, and in instances like this, one would hope The State might extend a little as well.
GOV. MARK SANFORD
Senators disappoint with contractor votes
I am concerned that both Sens. Jim DeMint and Lindsey Graham recently voted against an amendment added to the defense appropriations bill to force military contractors to drop arbitration clauses in cases where a contract employee is physically or sexually assaulted in the workplace.
That our two senators think so little of female employees and the rights of employees to be protected or even have the right to civil recourse through our justice system is downright unpatriotic. Corporations that don't protect their employees deserve to be sued, and do not deserve U.S. government grants funded by U.S. tax dollars.
Newspaper articles hold reader's interest
I sat down on Tuesday to read The State paper. I read Cindi Ross Scoppe's excellent, well-researched column about school dropouts; I read the wonderful letter from a college student in California about Joe Wilson (which I intend to send to my own granddaughter in Florida); I read my favorite economist and New York Times writer Paul Krugman; I read that Warren Bolton had won an award for his excellence in so many fields; and I read Ron Morris' kind and timely reminder to all of us Clemson fans to give a new coach a chance.
I thank you for what you are doing day in and day out. You are making The State an excellent newspaper.
NANCY H. PADGETT
Congaree park could draw tourists
It was disappointing to see no mention of Congaree National Park in the Thursday article, "Tourism expert: Midlands needs 'wow' factor." South Carolina's only national park, which is just a few miles from Columbia, has plenty of "wow." A globally important birding area and international biosphere reserve, the park attracts thousands of hikers, campers and kayakers every year.
Opportunities abound to provide services to these visitors in the form of restaurants, hotels, campgrounds, canoe and kayak rentals, etc. The park's closest neighbors, the residents of Lower Richland County, could benefit greatly from their proximity to the park in the development of tourism. Let's not leave one of our greatest assets - Congaree National Park - out of plans for the future of the Midlands.