South Carolina’s Medicaid Travesty
Insensitivity; absurdity and lack of compassion by the state government of South Carolina has risen to the top like fecal pollution on a gentle Carolina stream in regards to this year’s budget deficit. It reeks of heartlessness and the stench is enough to make one sick. According to a newscast on WYFF TV 4 by Myra Ruiz 1/25/2011, (http://www.wyff4.com/news/26210971/detail.html)
The South Carolina Department of Health and Human Service has indicated that recipients of straight Medicaid, (if no Medicare) they will be will no longer be afforded the services of Hospice. In addition there will be the elimination of the Community Long – Term Care Program which provides a variety of services to those in need which will include a reduction in meals served to homes each week. Many of these people most of them have worked all their lives, and now they face this travesty in the twilight of their years.
For me this is a very personal issue. In 2008 I took care of my late wife in a home hospice program set up and designed by hospice. She had pancreatic cancer and the people from hospice were angels. Just the fact of having to endure the certain passing of a loved one for me was is difficult enough but much more so if this had to be done without any assistance. I do admit that when my wife became ill we were not on Medicaid or Medicare for I was fortunate enough to have good insurance with a really great company. I must point out though, this is not the case with a great many individuals and to just simply state that these service will no longer be rendered is horrendous at best. Ms. Diane Rancourt who is the administrator of Southern Care Hospice stated in the interview with WYFF news the following, "The inability to pay is not a reason not to provide hospice services to a patient." “She also said she believes many hospice providers -- including Southern Care -- will continue to serve those who cannot pay.”
This is commendable and based on my experience with hospice, this is a reaction I would expect from the dedicated individuals associated with hospice. However to continue to take in those who have lost their Medicaid and provide care to these individuals due to some short sighted politicians goal to appease whomever it is they are trying to appease is not sustainable. The cost of cancer and other end of life issues are very expensive. Though the expense is large, the compassion and heart should be even larger.
Sad to say, the heart and compassion of those who rule seems to be missing. I know that the issues revolving around reducing our debt are complex and beyond my complete understanding, yet I don’t see why it has to be this service. I also am aware that this is not the only service to be cut, and cuts I agree are a needed evil for the times in which we reside. So, where do we cut? Who gets left out? This is a very difficult decision that has to be made. I know for myself in regards to salary increases over the last three years I have seen a seven cent increase on the hour. In addition to this we had our pension fund frozen in 2009.
This needless to say has been tough on this individual, but it also got me to thinking on the salaries of some of our state employees and those in high places in our public colleges which are in portion taxpayer funded. When one looks at the state colleges one will see large tuition hikes due to cuts in tax payer funding, yet salaries remain very high for administration in relation to the medium income of this state. Below are a few examples of the salaries of some of our college administrators. Does this include pension and other perks as well? I doubt it. What has the percentage of salary increase been for those listed below? Have the state funded colleges continued to increase perks for their administrations while increasing tuition? I don’t know the answer to some of these questions, I just know that when we as a state are asked to make sacrifices then we need to look across the entire spectrum and not solely focus making cuts in areas that some deem as expendable.
By listing the following salaries which are on public record, I am not implying that the individuals are not qualified to receive said amounts. I am sure their knowledge and experience warrants a good salary. I am just saying that if we are going to make cuts, then we need to explore all avenues in which cuts can be made without hurting a particular segment of our society. For example, Mr. Lilly: Dean of Clemson University made a salary of 358,550.00 whereas the President of the United States of America made a salary of 400,000.00.
Is there something wrong with this picture or is it just me? When writing this article / letter of plea I became aware that my research tools are limited and that I may not know the entire breakdown of salary VS taxpayer contribution with the state schools. The point of the matter is that we need to look across the board.
State Funded School Salaries 2010
CLEMSON UNIVERSITY: CLAUDE LILLY III - DEAN $358,550.00
CLEMSON UNIVERSITY: JAMES BOTTUM - VICE PROVOST $325,624.00
CLEMSON UNIVERSITY: ESIN GULARI - DEAN $267,650.00
CLEMSON UNIVERSITY: BRADLEY BROWNELL - ATHLETICS COACH $245,000.00
Read more: (http://www.thestate.com/statesalaries/?appSession=345197652238528#ixzz1C6Qd33oI)
UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH CAROLINA: MARTIN MORAD - PROFESSOR $373,700.00
UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH CAROLINA: JAY MOSKOWITZ - PROFESSOR $362,135.00
UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH CAROLINA: ERIC HYMAN - ATHLETICS DIRECTOR $309,065.00
UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH CAROLINA: DAVID OWEN - PROFESSOR $267,650.00
UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH CAROLINA: STEPHEN KRESOVICH - VICE PRESIDENT $266,666.00
Read more: (http://www.thestate.com/statesalaries/?appSession=112197652933970#ixzz1C6Rs4yb6)
Since it appears that it is the Department of Health and Human service that is pushing this resolution I went on to discover that of 129 employees making 50k a year or better had combined salaries of 8,321,701.00. Does this include pension? What about vacation and personal days? Again I reiterate that this does not imply that the pay is not commensurate with the job and its responsibilities. Yet are there areas that this department and other state agencies can be cut? Should not we all sacrifice something for the better good of our fellow citizens? Or should the divide continue? Below are the top five salaries for the Department of Health and Human Services in 2010.
DEPT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SVCS: MARY Forkner - Agency Head 144,746.00
DEPT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SVCS: Willaim Wells - Dpty/Div Director 188,366.00
DEPT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SVCS: Deirdra singleton - attorney v 117,360.00
DEPT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SVCS: felicity myers - DPTY/DIV DIRECTOR-EXEC COMP 110,292.00
DEPT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SVCS: Alicia jacobs - DPTY/DIV DIRECTOR-EXEC COMP 103,979.00
In conclusion I am helplessly drawn back to what prompted me to write this exposé to begin with. I think on the reasoning behind targeting cuts by eliminating services to those on Medicaid who are involved in hospice care. After witnessing first the horror that cancer can bring on an individual. After seeing the stress and turmoil that family is put through when a loved one is leaving, I can’t help but question the wisdom, or shall I say the lack thereof in making this decision. I can only hope that compassion will bring about a reverse to this action and that those who depend on hospice for their final days care will be able to continue to do as such.
J. Allen Wilson
PO Box 464
Belton, SC. 29627