Editorial Roundup: South Carolina

The Index-Journal. July 7, 2022.

Editorial: Get fired up for a big weekend

South Carolina Festival of Flowers, we thank you for all you gave us at the start of the spring and summer season in Greenwood. It was good to get out there again, to enjoy the topiaries, the various events, the gardens, wine walk/beer garden and much more.

You prepped many for what lies ahead in this jam-packed weekend, which begins today.

During the course of this long weekend, throngs of people will flock to Greenwood’s city central to enjoy the 21st incarnation of the Festival of Discovery and Greenwood Blues Cruise.

Kudos to Paula Brooks who, 22 years ago, birthed this baby that has grown into quite the impressive young adult it is today. And kudos to city staff, from Angela Fain Lorenzen, who succeeded Brooks, to the former city manager, Charlie Barrineau, the current city manager, Julie Wilkie, Community Development Director Lara Hudson, Gibson Hill, who heads up events and is the market coordinator for the city, and a host of others who year after year help pull this event together and have nurtured it so well.

We would be remiss if we did not also extend kudos to Gary Erwin, the amazing Blues Cruise coordinator and organizer, who has lined up the musicians since year one. Not only does Erwin pull all the musicians together and coordinate where and when they will perform, but also is an accomplished songwriter, keyboardist and performer in his own right. He never disappoints.

So make plans now to get out today, Friday and Saturday for a load of good eats, good music and good times. And yes, there will likely be some heat. And some rain. This is July in South Carolina, after all, so dress appropriately, drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and take some breaks as you need to. Just don’t miss out on a great weekend.

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Times and Democrat. July 7, 2022.

Editorial: RMC necessity: Thriving not just surviving

Orangeburg County continues to focus on development, looking to market itself as an ideal location between Charleston and Columbia. A key component of any development plan is showing prospects that the community has quality health care.

For more than 100 years, the Regional Medical Center -- and the Orangeburg hospital under different names -- has anchored health care for the state’s county with the second largest land area, and served people from Calhoun, Bamberg and elsewhere. RMC is a regional facility vital to health care for a big rural area, offering services beyond what is available at most rural hospitals.

Through transitions in the nation’s health care system, RMC has remained viable. The challenges have been many for a public hospital (owned by Orangeburg and Calhoun counties) that has a disproportionate share of patients unable to pay for services. With an obligation to provide care to all comers, RMC has relied on government subsidies for indigent patients.

The formula today is different. The Affordable Care Act curbed direct subsidies to hospitals in favor of expanding Medicaid, giving those in the program coverage to pay for care. But South Carolina has never expanded its Medicaid program, meaning no federal funds to accompany state dollars for new clients – and no dollars for RMC as it provides care to individuals who might otherwise have been on Medicaid.

RMC has sought help from the state to meet the challenges of continuing to provide care in the face of monetary losses – losses that threaten the future of RMC. But requests for funding to tackle more than $30 million in debt gave way in the legislature to a budget proviso authorizing RMC and the Medical University of South Carolina to explore a partnership.

Charleston-based MUSC and the Medical University Hospital Authority, a component of MUSC, are seeking to enter into a partnership with RMC that would provide RMC with a number of resources, including clinical, educational and research programs with an aim at improving care and the financial outcomes of the hospital. The proposal was the subject of a meeting this past week involving Orangeburg and Calhoun county councils and legislative delegations, the RMC board and MUSC officials. The session was a first step.

Orangeburg Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter said when she heard about RMC’s financial challenges, she wanted to make sure the hospital was solvent. She sees linking with MUSC as a way to help RMC do more than survive.

“We are not interested in the Regional Medical Center just surviving,” she said. “What we want to do is to make sure RMC thrives.”

The proposal would keep the RMC board in place for quality oversight, medical staff accreditation and community engagement while financial responsibility for RMC would fall under the MUSC board. All RMC employees would remain.

MUSC CEO Dr. Patrick Cawley cited the benefits RMC would see through a partnership, including a better market share and pricing for medical supplies and equipment, as well as MUSC’s leadership and experience.

Cawley also said another big benefit is in the recruitment of nurses and doctors. MUSC would discuss if RMC employees are to become state employees. MUSC officials say in other partnerships with MUSC, all have been agreeable to becoming state employees.

The relationship would mean RMC’s primary care doctors would have an opportunity to join the MUSC network.

As to hospital debt, Cawley said RMC and MUSC would work together as MUSC has done in linking with other hospitals across the state, including MUSC Health Florence.

The plan has the attention of the two county councils, which appoint members to the RMC board. It appears to have support among lawmakers. And it ultimately should have support among the present RMC board members. It’s not a done deal, but the plan has the potential to be good for RMC’s future as a public hospital continuing to be owned by the people of Orangeburg and Calhoun counties.

Cobb-Hunter is on target: “We believe, given the fiscal situation, the change in the health care landscape, we are going to have to figure out a different way of doing business in order for RMC to not only survive but to thrive.”

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The Post and Courier. July 5, 2022.

Editorial: Welcome SC rejection of baseless voter irregularities claims

File this under things we never thought we’d have to say: It was encouraging to see the S.C. Republican Party executive committee unanimously reverse a decision by a rogue county party, which had voted to ignore the will of the voters after those voters didn’t support the Greenville County Council candidate the local officials preferred.

We can’t say for sure what motivated the GOP leadership to reject the claim by Councilman Joe Dill — or by gubernatorial candidate Harrison Musselwhite and attorney general candidate Lauren Martel, who fell even further short of winning the GOP nominations last month. It’s possible that the members of the executive committee simply preferred the candidates who won the elections.

But we prefer to believe what the party said, in all three cases: that “no candidate provided credible evidence that could have quantifiably changed the outcome of the primary.” That is: Simply claiming that an election was stolen — with no credible evidence or even indications — doesn’t make it so.

If so, that marks an important step forward for party apparatchiks who were out front in peddling the unsubstantiated and in many cases fully discredited claims that the 2020 presidential election was stolen.

We’ve always had challenges to our election results — some serious and others laughable. Who can forget Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore’s lawsuit challenging George W. Bush’s 2000 victory in Florida — a victory that, it is too often forgotten, a team of journalists from the nation’s most respected mainstream media replicated when they conducted their own hand recount after the fact?

But Mr. Gore, like all the other challengers anyone paid attention to before 2020, accepted the decision of our judicial system. What set 2020 apart was that former President Donald Trump and a tremendous number of his supporters — including members of the S.C. Republican Party leadership — have continued to insist that the 2020 election was stolen. This even though those claims have been rejected by court after court, up to and including the U.S. Supreme Court, and including multiple judges and Supreme Court justices appointed by Mr. Trump.

While Greenville County Council winner Joey Russo underscored the importance of making sure every vote is legitimate, he also noted that “Orchestrating an effort to overturn (an) election because you don’t like the results is every bit as dangerous to our elections as cheating in an election.”

It’s clear that at least in Ms. Martel’s case, the orchestration began before the votes were cast: On the day early voting started, she sent out emails suggesting that voters wait and cast their ballots on primary day — implicitly endorsing unfounded suggestions that only votes cast then would be counted correctly. This in a state where there have been no credible claims of widespread voting irregularities, and where the Legislature nonetheless overhauled our election law this spring in order to inject multiple new layers of security.

We used to have a term for people who make claims like that: paranoid conspiracy theorists. Now, too often, we just call them political candidates.

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