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ISSUE 12.32
Aug. 09, 2013

RECENT ISSUES:
12/04 | 11/27 | 11/20 | 11/13

Index

News :
Why there's still uncertainty about Obamacare
Legislative Agenda :
A couple of meetings ahead
Radar Screen :
Slippery slope
Palmetto Politics :
T(b)empleton grilled
Commentary :
Now is not the time to turn to North Carolina
Spotlight :
The Riley Institute at Furman
Feedback :
Write a letter to the editor
Scorecard :
Middle, down, down and down
Stegelin :
"Fair and balanced"
Number of the Week :
$1.7 billion
Megaphone :
Classy, real classy
Tally Sheet :
Search S.C. legislative bills
Encyclopedia :
Samuel Gaillard Stoney

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NUMBER OF THE WEEK

$1.7 billion

That’s how much the state DOT wants to spend on seven interstate widening projects throughout South Carolina. More.

MEGAPHONE

Classy, real classy

“Nancy boy.”

That was the denigrating nickname given to U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) in a retweet from the campaign staff of one of his announced GOP primary challengers, Nancy Mace, the first female to graduate from The Citadel. Mace took responsibility for the message and had it taken down. Hmmm.  Nice way to start a campaign season.  More.

TALLY SHEET

Search S.C. legislative bills

With the legislature adjourned until next year, the next time bills will be introduced is in late November or early December with pre-filing for the 2014.  For now, you can look at bills filed in 2013 to determine what's so far in the hopper for 2014:

ENCYCLOPEDIA

Samuel Gaillard Stoney

Samuel Gaillard Stoney is considered by many to be the quintessential Charlestonian. Born in Charleston on Aug. 29, 1891, son of the planter Samuel Stoney Sr., and Louisa Cheves Smythe, he was descended on his mother’s side from the antebellum writer Louisa McCord and was also related to the writer John Bennett and the preservation architect Albert Simons.

After graduating from the College of Charleston, he saw service on the Mexican border. And although he was also an officer in the 318th Field Artillery, 81st Division in France, he never saw combat. A degree in architecture from the Georgia Institute of Technology led to work in Atlanta and New York, where his charm and knowledge brought him into contact with artists and scholars. His interest in Gullah enabled him to serve as a dialogue coach for actors in Porgy and so piqued the interest of the author Gertrude Mathews Shelby that she convinced Stoney to coauthor two books with her: a collection of creation tales told in Gullah, Black Genesis (1930); and a novel on the tragedy of miscegenation, Po’ Buckra (1930).

In 1933 at the MacDowell Colony in New Hampshire, Stoney met and married the New England poet (and later novelist) Frances Frost. They moved to Charleston, and the marriage ended in divorce. Stoney then began a frank love affair with his native city. President of the South Carolina Historical Society, the Preservation Society, Historic Charleston Foundation, the Huguenot Society, and other organizations, Stoney helped document the city’s past while fighting to save much of its architecture. His stubborn stands gained him both detractors and devotees. Living simply, he became a familiar sight on Charleston’s streets, where he was known as much for his sandals and shirtsleeves as his curiosity, knowledge, and wit.

He was a frequent and popular speaker on numerous topics, all colored with his affection for his city. He wrote the text to accompany Bayard Wootten’s book of photographs, Charleston: Azaleas and Old Brick (1937), and contributed substantially to seminal works on area architecture: Plantations of the Carolina Low Country (1938) and This Is Charleston (1944), an architectural survey that has been key to the preservation of the physical city. Minor works include The Story of South Carolina’s Senior Bank: The Bank of Charleston and The Dulles Family in South Carolina (both published in 1955).

As author of numerous historical articles, aide to scholars, and contributor to the intellectual life of the city, Stoney built a scholarly foundation for the documentation and study of Charleston, which, in turn, treated him as a favorite son. In May 1968 he was awarded a doctor of letters from the College of Charleston, where he had lectured from 1949 to 1966. He died at his own hand on July 30, 1968. His death, the News and Courier noted, “removes a Charleston landmark as real as the architectural treasures he spent his life fighting to preserve.” He was buried at St. James Goose Creek Episcopal Church, which he had served as senior (and sole) warden for 40 years.

-- Excerpted from the entry by Harlan Greene. To read more about this or 2,000 other entries about South Carolina, check out The South Carolina Encyclopedia by USC Press. (Information used by permission.)

PALMETTO PRIORITIES

Palmetto Priorities Statehouse Report encourages state leaders to develop and implement Palmetto Priorities involving several issues to make the state better a better place. Click the link to learn more about our suggestions for bipartisan policy objectives.

Here is a summary of our Palmetto Priorities:

CORRECTIONS: Reduce the prison population by 25 percent by 2020.

EDUCATION: Cut the state's dropout rate in half by 2020.

ELECTIONS: Increase voter registration to 75 percent by 2015.

ENVIRONMENT: Adopt a state energy policy that requires energy producers to generate 20 percent of energy from renewable sources by 2020.

ETHICS: Overhaul state ethics laws.

HEALTH CARE: Ensure affordable and accessible health care.

JOBS: Develop a Cabinet-level post to add, retain 10,000 small business jobs per year.

POLITICS: Have a vigorous two- or multi-party political system of governance.

ROADS: Strengthen all bridges and upgrade state roads by 2015.

SAFETY: Cut the state's violent crime rate by one-third by 2016.

TAX REFORM: Remove outdated special interest sales tax exemptions as part of an overall reform of the state's tax structure to be completed by 2014.

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News

Why there's still uncertainty about Obamacare

By Bill Davis, senior editor

AUG. 9. 2013 -- Families and individuals across South Carolina already covered by private-pay health care insurance are likely facing an uncertain three years as the effects of Obamacare continue to ripple.

The state’s Insurance agency last month announced the cost of individual health care insurance could increase by as much as 70 percent as the result of federal health care mandates kicking in next year.

But critics say that announcement may have been premature, as it was based on numbers submitted by only four different insurance companies. Additionally, the announcement didn’t factor in federal tax breaks that could reduce the fiscal load on those already insured.

South Carolina, led by Gov. Nikki Haley, has already “opted out” of creating state health care insurance exchanges. Instead, the state will rely on federally-run exchanges, which experts say will cause further uncertainty as to costs and coverage.

State Democrats have blamed Republicans for declining to expand state Medicaid programs for crass political gain this past legislative session -- a move that Dems claim will cause billions in matching federal health care buy-in dollars flow to other states. One state Democratic operative claimed that only “red” states like South Carolina are “reporting” increased health care insurance costs, while “blue” states, like Maryland and New York, are seeing net cost decreases.

Driving factors

USC business school professor Ernst Csiszar, the state’s former insurance commissioner, said that New York’s rates weren’t as negatively impacted this year because it had already enacted key pillars of what became the Affordable Care Act.

Csiszar, right, the former chief executive officer of one of the nation’s largest property and casualty insurance companies, said this week that he saw three main issues that could drive up costs:

  1. The universal guarantee of coverage. If no one can be turned away from getting coverage through Obamacare -- even if they've just contracted a dread disease -- then costs may go up to cover the insurance companies' increased financial exposure. (Others counter that adding a lot of more people to the pool of those covered could drive down costs, but it depends if they sign up; see below.)

  2. No limit to benefits. Traditional health care insurance policies either cap amounts paid out or exclude some areas of coverage, especially if the maladies were preexisting. Under Obamacare, formerly avoided diagnoses, like mental health issues, are now covered -- and for life. In short, more is being covered for no money or time limits, according to Csiszar. Additionally, elderly consumers won’t be charged as much as six times more for coverage than typically healthier, younger consumer had been charged in the past.

  3. Uncertainty. Csiszar claims that “no one” in the insurance field believes that mid-20somethings will actually buy health care insurance from the exchanges because there is no real penalty to avoiding purchasing coverage. That will drive up uncertainty, an anathema to insurance types and likely costs, he said.

Csiszar said further uncertainty is being fueled by seemingly weekly wrinkles added to the Affordable Care Act, such as Congress exempting itself from the law or President Barack Obama’s decision to exempt larger employers.

Csiszar, quoting an apocryphal story making the rounds in the Obamacare debate of a man flying to Belgium for an appreciably cheaper knee replacement surgery, said the real culprit in inflated costs are not the admittedly rich and powerful insurance companies. It's really the profit margins that doctors and hospitals demand.

Welcome to our world

Allan Stalvey, the lead lobbyist for the S.C. Hospital Association, dismissed Csiszar’ insurance industry-friendly dig. He said hospitals and physician’s margins have dropped for the past three years, and that they have always been below that of insurance companies.

Stalvey sees a new paradigm in which insurance companies now have to accept everyone who comes to them, much like hospitals have welcomed the poor in their emergency rooms.

That being said, Stalvey said that insurance companies, for many of the same reasons Csiszar mentioned, “will have no choice but to increase premiums.”

Stalvey and Csiszar also share another common belief: that if Obamacare becomes a debacle, it may move the country closer and closer to a single-payer system in which the government pays for all health costs.

Don’t believe the hype

“It’s all a big giveaway,” said Tony Keck, who runs the state’s Medicaid program. As one of Haley’s cabinet members, he may be the state’s biggest critic of Obamacare.

Keck has maintained since he took the job under Haley that prices would go up and access would go down as more and more people were covered under Obamacare. His basic point, reiterated this week, is that “giving away” coverage will come at a steep cost.

Balderdash, according to state Minority Leader Todd Rutherford (D-Columbia).

“Republicans have unnecessarily driven up healthcare costs in South Carolina by living in denial when it comes to the Affordable Care Act,” said Rutherford. “And living in denial has real life consequences. States that chose to expand Medicaid and create state exchanges are seeing their rates go down. But states like South Carolina that fought the law tooth and nail and refused to expand Medicaid are seeing their rates go up.

This isn't rocket science, according to Rutherford. “If we continue live in this alternate universe where the Affordable Care Act isn't the law of the land, the more our rates will increase. But if we want our rates to go down, the Republicans who control the entire state government will have to accept reality and start putting people ahead of politics."

Crystal ball: A consensus exists among those interviewed for this story is that Obamacare’s full effect won’t be known for a few years until it is fully enacted, the bugs worked out and the wrinkles smoothed over. Until that time, rhetoric will remain spicy. And people will probably remain confused.

Bill Davis is editor of Statehouse Report.  He can be reached at:  billdavis@statehousereport.comRecent news stories include:

Legislative Agenda

A couple of meetings ahead

The audit committee of the S.C. Retirement System Investment Commission, recently in the news for squabbles with state Treasurer Curtis Loftis, will meet 3 p.m. Tuesday at the Presentation Center on the fifth floor of 1201 Main Street in Columbia.

  • The state Board of Economic Advisors will meet at 2 p.m., Aug. 22, in room 417 of the Rembert Dennis Building.
Radar Screen

Slippery slope

South Carolina may have taken its first steps toward school vouchers. This week, the state’s Education Oversight Committee approved a plan whereby 12 private schools could enroll special-needs kids with state tuition grants helping to pay their tuition. While nobody wants to see students with specialized educational needs not get the best instruction possible, this could become the philosophical wedge that opens the floodgates for vouchers.

Palmetto Politics

T(b)empleton grilled

State senators grilled current state Department of Health and Environmental Control Director Catherine Templeton for three hours Thursday over how poorly her agency responded to a tuberculosis outbreak in the Greenwood County public school system this spring.

A couple of new points were made that could influence policy, and perhaps her future as an agency head. Templeton arched a few eyebrows when she admitted that her agency had been made aware of the issue a month earlier than some senators had originally thought. That didn’t go over well.

Another point that has become clear: Democratic senators aren’t just drawing their crosshairs on Templeton, but on her chief health office, Jamie Shuster, too. Senators asked why Shuster still had her high-paying job despite the slow agency response that cost three local officials their jobs. Shuster’s hiring last year was criticized because she had a fiscal background and not one in public health.

Stay tuned.

Commentary

Now is not the time to turn to North Carolina

By Andy Brack, editor and publisher

AUG. 9, 2013 -- It took North Carolina just one legislative session to do the kind of damage to state government that took South Carolina lawmakers about 20 years to achieve.

Republicans took over the North Carolina General Assembly in 2010, but had to wait until the state had a Republican governor to avoid Democratic vetoes of legislation intended to erase the progress for which the Tarheel state has long been proud.

In one legislative session, North Carolina lawmakers rolled back an impressive -- and scary -- set of laws. They made it tougher for people to vote by requiring photo identification at the polls. They allowed guns to be taken into bars and onto playgrounds. They imposed tougher restrictions on abortion, which is causing some clinics to close. They cut taxes across the board, which caused $600 million less in education and other funding. They cut teacher pay raises. They relaxed environmental laws, required drug testing for some welfare recipients and increased the allure of special interest money.

Kind of sounds like what South Carolina Republicans have been pushing for years, doesn't it?

North Carolina's pent-up list of conservative legislation, seemingly copied directly from the playbook of the American Legislative Exchange Council, has so set back the state that late night comedian John Oliver poked fun at it August 5 at South Carolina's expense: "Your move, South Carolina. You thought you had 'craziest Carolina' all sewn up, didn't you? ... You may be about to lose the war of Northern regression."

Longtime North Carolina political observer Ferrel Guillory says there's been pushback with the firestorm of conservative legislation, such as the hundreds of people who marched weekly on the Capitol on "Moral Mondays."

"Overall, this is still a purple state in the sense that the general electorate is very narrowly divided," said Guillory, a journalism professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. "Obama won in 2008 by 14,000 votes. Romney won by 90,000 in 2012. You had five consecutive Democratic governors before [Pat] McCrory won.

"We've had a very red Republican legislature and governance imposed on a purple state and they've solidified it through redistricting," he said, adding that the tide could turn. More North Carolinians voted for Democratic congressional candidates in 2012 on the whole than for Republicans, even though Republicans hold nine of 13 seats, he said.

"I tell my friends, 'Don't give up on North Carolina' when you've looked to North Carolina for leadership."

But what's worrying is the possibility that South Carolina Republicans will become roosters with new confidence to push things that passed in North Carolina that still haven't passed here -- more abortion restrictions, guns in bars, more education cuts, laxer environmental laws and more.

Now with North Carolina acting more like we've acted for years, let's not, for a change, turn to North Carolina as the example. Instead of both parties in South Carolina looking at their narrow platforms, let's take a look at what's good for everybody. Instead of playing the blame game and trying to nationalize state politics, let's focus on things like comprehensive tax reform to make taxes fairer for everyone. Let's have more accountability and transparency in government, create more opportunity to reduce poverty, cut the violent crime rate and improve education.

In the scathing political wars in the state and nation, the concept of the common good -- once such a vital part of our democracy -- has been shredded in favor of a culture of individual needs and greed. But it is exactly the common good that helped to forge our Constitution.

As Christian writer Jim Wallis wrote in Time magazine in April: "A commitment to the common good could bring us together and solve the deepest problems this country and the world now face: How do we work together? How do we treat each other, especially the poorest and most vulnerable? How do we take care of not just ourselves but also one another? The common good is also the best way to find common ground with other people—even with those who don’t agree with us or share our politics."

Andy Brack is publisher of Statehouse ReportYou can reach Brack at: brack@statehousereport.com.

Spotlight

The Riley Institute at Furman

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Scorecard

Middle, down, down and down

Ranking. South Carolina has the lowest rate nationally of serious disciplinary actions handed down to errant doctors – which means either our docs are great or our policing of them is pretty horrible? More.

Templeton. O.K. (a la former U.S. Sen. Herman Talmadge of Georgia): What did you know and when did you know it? And why did everyone but Haley cronies get fired? More.

Tax collections. South Carolina is collecting less and less in taxes each year, by percentage of growth, than all but one state in the country. More.

State GOP. The head of the state Republican Party wants to ban CNN and NBC from broadcasting presidential debates that take place in South Carolina unless they agree to refuse to air documentaries about Hilary Clinton. Your move, North Carolina! More.

Stegelin

"Fair and balanced"


RECENT STEGELIN: 8/2 | 7/26 | 7/19 | 7/12
credits

Statehouse Report

Editor and Publisher: Andy Brack
Senior Editor: Bill Davis
Contributing Photographer: Michael Kaynard

Phone: 843.670.3996

© 2002 - 2018 , Statehouse Report LLC. Statehouse Report is published every Friday by Statehouse Report LLC, PO Box 22261, Charleston, SC 29413.
Excerpts from The South Carolina Encyclopedia are published with permission and copyrighted 2006 by the Humanities Council SC. Excerpts were edited by Walter Edgar and published by the University of South Carolina Press. Statehouse Report has partnered with USC Press to provide readers with this interesting weekly historical excerpt about the state. Republication is not allowed. For additional information about Statehouse Report, including information on underwriting, go to http://www.statehousereport.com/.