Last week’s column generated a good bit of interest, not only locally, but from around the country. As you recall, I gave you some facts and figures we are working with in regard to the Affordable Healthcare Act (Obamacare). Most of the local comments were in favor of South Carolina’s likely non-participation. However, I did have a good conversation with a member of the Hospital Association who disagreed with that position. We had what is usually termed a “frank exchange of views” and agreed to disagree.
As I reviewed our chat, it occurred to me that our disagreement was not so much about the numbers and what they meant for the fiscal health of the state or the ability of our residents to access affordable health care, it was about how far into the future we were projecting. It also had to do with the different roles that government and private corporations should play in the economy.
Hospitals, and the companies that manage them, face their stockholders every quarter and are judged on their performance by how much profit or loss they realize. Our state has a much longer timeline. We also have an element that corporations rarely consider, which is the issue of sovereignty. In South Carolina, we have little desire to become essentially a part of the federal government’s healthcare regime. The dramatic expansion of Medicaid, even considering the federal match, will dominate our budget long after the enhanced transitional matching dollars are exhausted. Having said that, the conversation is still technically open. This legislator, however, would be mightily shocked if we, after all, were to embrace Obamacare in anything remotely close to its present configuration.
Continuing in the healthcare vein, I want to remind you that a week from tomorrow is the Community Matching Grant Fundraiser for the Bluffton/Jasper County Volunteers in Medicine. It is Thursday, Sept. 27th, from 5:30 to 7:00 at the Pine House, which is the lovingly restored, historic home of my good friend, Joanie Heyward. The Pine House is at the very southern tip (appropriately) of Boundary Street in Old Town Bluffton. A lot of good folks worked a long time to make our Volunteers in Medicine clinic a reality. This is an excellent opportunity to make a difference in our community while also having a fine party in a beautiful place.
For sponsorship information, please give Joanie a call at 757-3354 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Finally, I want to thank the many good people who attended the dedication of the Tom Herbkersman Commons, and the grand opening of the Hilton Head Island/Bluffton Chamber of Commerce office. Both are located at the four-way stop in Old Town Bluffton, or what Chamber CEO Bill Miles characterized as “the corner of Main and Main” in Bluffton.
It was an emotional event for me, and the many members of my family in attendance as we heard speakers recall with fondness the many good qualities of my late brother Tom. We are especially indebted to my great friend, Mayor Lisa Sulka as she shared stories of Tom’s kindness and resolute support when I decided that I should run for the statehouse over a decade ago. It was Tom who originally envisioned the pocket park on the parcel our family donated at the southeast corner of the Promenade. Tom and I, along with Bluffton Assistant Manager, Marc Orlando, drew the original design for the park on a napkin over lunch at Capt. Woody’s. Tom would have been pleased.