Archive for the ‘ NEWS ’ Category

Johnsoncare and Obamacare and Trumpcare, Oh My!

Johnsoncare. That would be the popular term for Medicare if Congress had created it now instead of back in 1965 when Lyndon Johnson was president. Imagine listening to your dad talk about how, in just a few short months, he will be able to retire and sign up for Johnsoncare. He might even opt for the Johnsoncare Part D prescription coverage and get him some Cialis, proving in pure cosmic Baby Boomer fashion that the party never ends.

Johnsoncare, Obamacare, Trumpcare – these terms are all attempts to associate bad policy with the president who signed the policy into law. Newspapers and political opponents have been trying to tag presidents with them since the days of Mr. Jefferson’s Folly (The Louisiana Purchase) and Mr. Lincoln’s War (pick a name, any name that captures your version of the complexity of the late unpleasantness). The grammatical term for these rhetorical creations is eponym. An eponym most commonly occurs when a proper name of a product becomes the generic or popular name for all similar products.

People use eponyms all of the time. We ask for a Band-Aid or a Kleenex instead of an adhesive bandage or tissue paper. Some folks ask for a Coke when they mean any flavored soda water. I don’t because I was raised in a Pepsi drinking household and was taught the proper names of soft drinks. Common eponyms are harmless unless you really believe that buying the world a Coke would make a difference.

Political eponyms are almost always negative. Stalinism and Maoism are not fondly remembered forms of communism unless you enjoy political reeducation camping in Siberia or tank spotting in Tiananmen Square.

Thatcherism wasn’t used by Great Britain’s Labour Party to celebrate the shrinking of their welfare state. Obamacare isn’t used by conservatives to show respect for Barak Obama’s Affordable Care Act. To some of us chronically ill patients who depend on the healthcare system, Obamacare really means palliative care for all involved – patient’s lives, physician’s careers and our entire healthcare system. The only winners are the hospital administrators and the insurance companies, but they are merely the walking dead at this point.

Which seems fine for the Republicans up in DC. When it comes to repealing Obamacare, there are more than a few cowardly lions, scarecrows and tin men in the GOP leadership. These reform wannabes say they can’t repeal Obamacare outright so they want to just take out the bad parts to make healthcare cheaper. To borrow from P.G. Wodehouse, that’s just piffle.

Their bright idea is to exclude poor people who might be unhealthy and give tax breaks to rich people who don’t need them. These are the same old political trade-offs the two parties have been making since 1965. Use the poor people and tinker with the tax code. Make no mistake. Both parties are committed to government intervention in our healthcare.

Due to the mental atrophy that comes from socialistic thinking, they refuse to think really hard and come up with a superior healthcare system based on the patient/physician relationship rather than on the hospital administration/insurance company axis of evil. Maybe they just can’t think outside of the political donation box.

Here’s a big thought the DC Republicans should consider. Medical treatments for a host of illnesses are advancing rapidly and continue to accelerate. Just as our political understanding of natural law and the individual rights of man came from the Age of Reason, our medical understanding of the right to individual healthcare access should be formed from the coming Age of Health. The future of healthcare lies not with covering the group but with treating the individual.

Obamacare and all other current universal healthcare schemes become unaffordable because hospital administrators and insurance companies commoditize treatment. That means they commoditize patients. Insurance companies and hospital administrators want desperately for illnesses to present the same in all people because they believe that physicians are as interchangeable as light bulbs. The problem for them is that good physicians cost more than light bulbs and patients can see the difference between a 40 watt and a 100 watt.

Patients who are trapped in hospital-dominated healthcare systems see their experienced physicians replaced by temps to keep physician salaries suppressed. Patients then receive treatments based not on their highly individualized symptoms and the latest research but on what the insurance companies and their indecipherable minimum standard of care treatment codes will allow. This strategy leads to sicker patients and higher healthcare costs. No wonder our healthcare system staggers towards collapse.

At this fleeting moment, when Republicans control Congress and the White House, they should forget any system that smacks of Trumpcare and offer a new approach to healthcare based on the relationship between patient and physician. Allow physicians to determine the best course of treatment for their patients, put hospital administrators back to ordering supplies and stop the insurance companies from practicing medicine without a license.

I know. It’s a broad idea with no detail but just consider it for a moment. A physician directed healthcare system leads to better health for the individual. Healthy individuals have greater opportunity to lead productive lives and give back to the community. Greater opportunity creates new wealth. New wealth balances the cost of previously provided healthcare. Physician directed healthcare becomes an investment, not an expense. Sounds sort of Republican, doesn’t it?

Susan Stringer Gunter

I’m sorrowed to report the passing of my sister, Susan Stringer Gunter. Her illness was known but a brief five weeks.

After learning from her doctors that she had no viable treatment options, she returned home to the loving embrace of her husband and children.

During the weeks that followed, they celebrated her kind and gentle life quietly lived. Their faith and love for each other in death’s shadow threw wide open a window for God’s grace to shine in.

She will be sorely missed.

SC House GOP Caucus 2017 End of Session Report

Current and Accurate as of 06/06/2017

The following is a summary of various bills that have come before the House this year. This summary was prepared by the SC House Republican caucus.

 

Ways and Means Committee:

 Infrastructure Reform and Funding Act:

Status: Governor’s Veto Overridden by House and Senate

Governance and Reform

  • Provides real accountability and transparency at the Department of Transportation (public records, mandated meetings, ethical requirements for commissioners)
  • Gives Governor complete control of the Commission with a clear line of authority and at-will removal
  • Requires General Assembly to approve all 9 Highway Commission appointees
  • Highway Commission organized to reflect regional representation with 7 Congressional districts and 2 statewide at-large members appointed by the Governor (adds 1 member to current structure)
  • Strengthens DOT’s control over project authorization and financial decisions by the State Transportation Infrastructure Bank

Funding

  • Creates a long-term and sustainable funding stream by increasing the motor fuel user fee by 2 cents/gallon over the next 6 years, not exceeding 12 cents/gallon
  • Safeguards taxpayers from future automatic tax increases by not indexing for inflation
  • Protects SC taxpayers from continuing to solely foot the bill for infrastructure repair by not using General Fund dollars and captures 30% of the motor fuel user fee revenue from out-of-state motorists
  • Creates an Infrastructure Maintenance Trust Fund to ensure all new revenue collected from the motor fuel user fee is used only for existing infrastructure needs
  • Does not increase or change fees for South Carolina driver’s license applications or renewals
  • Increases funding for County Transportation Committees targeted to repair rural and secondary roads
  • Captures revenue from alternative energy motorists by creating a biennial registration fee for all hybrid and electric vehicles
  • Established a road use fee to capture revenue from out of state truckers
  • Raises the cap on motor vehicle sales tax to $500 and creates a $250 out of state maintenance fee
  • Incentivizes road construction industry to return to SC with responsible infrastructure investment
  • Provides $640 million in new annual revenue for infrastructure maintenance needs when fully implemented

Tax Relief

  • Includes responsible tax relief to offset the user fee increase for South Carolina motorists
  • Offers a refundable income tax credit equal to the motor fuel user fee increase that must be reauthorized prior to 2023
  • Enhances already existing College Tuition Tax Credit for every South Carolina tuition-payer to enhance workforce development
  • Contains a non-refundable Low Income Tax Credit for working families (not federal model)
  • Increases the maximum income tax credit from $210 to $350 for dual income household joint filers
  • Reduces SC manufacturers’ property tax burden by $35 million using a phased-in approach over 6 years

Retirement System Reform Act:

Status: Signed by Governor

  • Increase to the employer contribution rate of 2% in year one
  • State budget pays 1% of increased costs for the first year
  • Place a cap on the employee contribution rate of 9% (9.75% for LEO’s)
  • Reduce the assumed rate of return on investments and put protections in place to oversee changes in future rate adjustments
  • Modify the amortization rate period to reduce unfunded liabilities
  • Implement governance recommendations from the Funston Advisory Services and Legislative Audit Council
  • Require a four-year rotation schedule for fiduciary audits of PEBA and the RSIC (Retirement System Investment Commission 

House Agriculture Committee:

  • 3218 Dams and Reservoirs Safety Act

Status: Passed House, In Senate

A bill to require dam or reservoir owners be responsible for the safe maintenance of their dams or reservoirs.

  • 3517 Hunting and Fishing License Reform

Status: Signed by Governor

A bill waiving all DNR fees, granting terminally ill children free hunting and fishing licenses.

  • 3619 Updating Animal Cruelty Laws

Status: Passed House, In Senate

A bill to protect animals by prohibiting the tattooing or piercing of residential pets.

  • 3719 Fire Safety Act

Status: Signed by Governor

A bill allowing the state forester to direct at any time, when deemed necessary in the interest of public safety, that certain recreational fires be prohibited.

 

3M Committee:

  • 3438 Expanding Access to Generic Drugs

Status: Signed by Governor

A bill allowing doctors and pharmacists to prescribe additional forms of affordable generic drugs, such as pharmaceutical biologics, to patients. This new law expands access to affordable healthcare throughout our state.

  • 3824 Prescription Drug Monitoring Act

Status: Signed by Governor

Legislation requiring physicians to review a patient’s medical history prior to prescribing a Schedule II controlled substance. The bill is just one more step in the right direction toward curbing prescription drug abuse.

 

House Education and Public Works Committee

  • 3220 S.C. Education and Economic Development Coordinating Council Act

Status: Signed by Governor

A bill to create a council comprised of educators, school administrators, and business community members for the purpose of advising the department of Education and the Department of Commerce on best practices to strengthen progress toward career pathways and provide for a better prepared workforce and student success in post-secondary education.

  • 3221 Department of Education Fiscal Accountability Act

Status: Signed by Governor

A bill to require the South Carolina Department of Education establish a program for identifying fiscal practices and budgetary conditions that could compromise the fiscal integrity of a school district.

  • 3508 School Year Start Date

Status: Signed by Governor

Grants local school boards increased flexibility by allowing them the option to start school on Thursday, August 17 instead of the third Monday in August as previously mandated.

  • 3969 Uniform School Report Card Act

Status: Passed House, On Governor’s Desk

A bill to simplify the annual performance ratings of individual schools by creating one report card with one overall rating system.

  • 3427 South Carolina Computer Science Education Initiative

Status: Passed House, In Senate

A bill preventing a long-term shortage of needed workers in high-paying skilled jobs requiring technical training. This initiative increases access to computer science experiences for all K-12 students.

  • 3591 First Steps Reauthorization Act

Status: Passed House, In Senate

Permanently authorizes the South Carolina First Steps to School Readiness Program and adds significant new accountability measures within the program

  • 3034 G.I. Bill

Status: Signed by Governor

A bill to meet the updated minimum federal requirements by entitling qualifying veterans and their dependents who use the G.I. Bill and certain other benefits to pay in-state tuition at SC public institutions of higher learning.

  • 3035 Increasing Access to Higher Education for Veterans Act

Status: Passed House, In Senate

This bill waives the 12-month waiting period for honorably discharged veterans to establish residency in order to obtain in-state tuition rates at colleges and universities.

  • 3821 Opioid Prescription Education Act

Status: Passed House, In Senate

A bill to require institutions of higher learning offering healthcare degrees to require coursework programs on the prescription and monitoring of Schedule II, III, and IV controlled substances. This bill serves as part of a package of bills aimed at reducing the sad increase of opioid addiction in our state.

  • 3247 Moped Safety Act

Status: Signed by Governor

A bill closing loopholes thereby subjecting moped operators to the same violations, including DUI, as other motorists. This law increases roadway safety for both vehicle motorists and moped drivers alike.

  • 3358 South Carolina REAL I.D. Act

Status: Signed by Governor

A law to bring South Carolina into compliance with federal REAL I.D. requirements, while also allowing citizens to opt out of REAL I.D. By ensuring compliance with REAL I.D. no activity requiring a REAL I.D. for participation will be interrupted in South Carolina.

  • 4033 Work Zone Safety Act

Status: Signed by Governor

This law strengthens penalties for those who endanger the life of a highway worker. Those working on our roadways must be protected while performing their daily duties.

 

Oversight Committee:

  • 3440 South Carolina Commission for the Blind Qualifications Update Act

Status: Passed House, In Senate

A bill requiring the governance board of the South Carolina Commission for the Blind to contain at least three members who meet the legal definition of blindness. The bill also allows the commission to employ qualified counselors to assist teachers who are responsible for the teaching of visually handicapped students.

  • 3271 DMV Accounting Practices Reform

Status: Passed House, In Senate

This bill contains 55 various statutory updates and revisions recommended by the House Legislative Oversight Committee as a result of its study of the Comptroller General’s Office, the state’s top accountant. This legislation addresses accounting responsibilities related to the DMV and updates the law in accordance with current accounting practices.

  • 3318 Transfer Illegal Immigration Enforcement Unit

Status: Passed House, In Senate

A bill transferring the illegal immigration enforcement unit from the Department of Public Safety to the State Law Enforcement Division. This bill increases the effectiveness of the Illegal Immigration Enforcement Unit by placing it under the direction of an agency that more closely aligns to its mission.

 

Judiciary Committee:

  • 3930 Constitutional Carry Act

Status: Passed House, In Senate

A bill providing authorization to carry a handgun in public without a permit. This bill also protects the rights and provisions for those with a Concealed Weapons Permit.

  • 3352 Updating the Freedom of Information Act

Status: Signed by the Governor

This law provides enhancements to our existing Freedom of Information Act.

  • 107 Joint Election of Governor and Lieutenant Governor

Status: Signed by Governor

A bill implementing changes providing for the joint election of the Governor and the Lieutenant Governor.

  • 3209 Record Expungement Act

Status: Passed House, In Senate

Legislation allowing the expungement of previous offenses that are no longer considered crimes. This measure allows low-level offenders to re-enter the workforce and gives them a second chance in life.

  • 3548 South Carolina Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Abortion Act

Status: Passed in House, In Senate

This legislation outlaws and creates criminal penalties for the performance of a dismemberment abortion in South Carolina. This bill further protects the right to life for the unborn while banning a gruesome act.

 

LCI Committee:

  • 3041 Real Estate Agent Background Checks

Status: Signed by Governor

A law mandating that fingerprint background checks are required for all new real estate agents and all agents renewing their licenses. This law ensures dangerous criminals do not have access to the homes of unsuspecting citizens of our state.

  • 3488 Paperless Insurance Act

Status: Signed by Governor

A new law allowing an insurer to deliver, store, or present evidence of insurance coverage electronically if the insured entity so desires. This law allows insurance companies to modernize their record keeping and pass savings on to consumers.

  • 3647 Time Share Industry Regulation Act

Status: Signed by Governor

A law prohibiting an individual from creating a fraudulent company for the purpose of purchasing time shares.

  • 3886 HOA Reform Act

Status: Passed House, In Senate

This bill increases the rights of homeowners and allows homeowners to submit complaints about their HOA to a regulatory authority.