Defunct program to be revived?

March 9, 2017

Inside Insight

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Here comes the pork.

On Wednesday we learned from the policy team at the South Carolina Policy Council (The Nerve’s parent organization) that budget-writers in the House have resuscitated the Competitive Grants program. That program, you may remember, was relentlessly derided by Gov. Mark Sanford as the legislature’s “slush fund.”

We don’t endorse that sobriquet, but it’s certainly true, as the Policy Council notes, that the grant allocations “often looked indistinguishable from old-fashioned pork”; and so the legislature finally discontinued the program in 2009. It was meant, of course, to provide small grants for community projects – baseball diamonds, public parks, local training programs, and so on. But those sorts of well-meaning programs tend to turn into something else – fast.

That put us in mind of a 2010 story by our former colleague Rick Brundrett about a company called Welvista, a Columbia-based firm that provides mail-order prescriptions to people who don’t have Medicaid, Medicare, or private insurance but who qualify as low-income. The meds are donated to Welvista by large pharma companies.

Sounds great, and for all we know Welvista is a terrific company. In Brundrett’s story, though, we learned that the company received nearly $1.5 million in mostly state dollars in fiscal 2008-2009. “Of the total, $400,000 was designated as ‘pass-through’ funds to the organization, which typically are inserted into the budget by lawmakers; while another $500,000 was awarded to the organization through a competitive grants program authorized by a state budget proviso, records show.”

Huh. So in 2008-2009 the competitive grants program sent half a million dollars to a lobbyist principal that was already getting $400,000 through another channel. Look for more of the same if lawmakers are successful in revving it back up in 2017.

Read the Policy Council’s update here, and Brundrett’s story about Welvista here.


  • Sharon Storck

    and yet they cant find or fund a program for poor uninsured to have access to medical care. dont give me the story about local clinics such as the clyburn center in Aiken, talk about a slush fund. and its not staffed by board certified physicians. a retired african american OB/GYN is the director but rarely sees patients. the poor are seen by med level practitioners such as PA’s and NP’s. and they charge the poor 30m-35 .00 for a appt. but there is a true physicians practice in Augusta ga, just across the state line that provides low cost health care to the poor and underserved and it is staffed by board certified internal medicine and family practice physicians. they do have some PA’s and Np’s, but all pts are followed by a real physician. and their sliding scale starts at 25.00. but there are ZERO specialty clinics that provide low cost care such as cardiology, neurology, ortho. when I broke my foot I had to pay 300 to be seen by a orthopedic surgeon which I couldn’t afford. I had to GUeSS when it was healed, my primary doc paid for a xray to check on healing.. the radiologist said it needed surgery to place a pin but again, no program in SC for poor uninsured. so my bone in my foot healed dislocated. thanks SC for caring about ALL of your citizens. when I questioned my loal rep and senator I was told they had no idea and no intention to fund low cost options for the poor or uninsured. they don’t have to “fund it’ they can require the state ed schools to provide true low cost appts for the uninsured/underinsured. 75.00- 300 is NOT a affordable option. we need to have a sliding scale for people that meet financial needs. not Free, but AFFORDABLE. people concerned about “death panels with obamacare sc has them its called failure to provide care. they just let the poor die then they don’t have to provide a low cost option. there is ZERO excuse for our state med schools not taking care of the poor / uninsured at a AFFORDABLE price. most can pay 25.00 but to pay 300 is ridiculous. all because our state didn’t expand medicaid or offer affordable options is unacceptable. just once I would like to see our state do something for the poor. providing basic medical care isn’t it. we have ZERO options for the uninsured/poor to obtain specialty care at a reasonable rate. ZERO. 300 for a pacemaker check.. It is Ok with our state legislature to just let the battery die then they have to pay for emergency care. that so much cheaper than routine care. we should be ashamed that our statehas no regard for the health of the poor, uninsured that do not meet mediciad sue to age, or no minor children in the home.

    • Marion1

      Your county hospital is required to have a Hill-Burton program where that is provided at a nominal fee or free. You pay taxes to fund it, therefore, they must provide those services at a nominal fee. You have to go to the financial aid office and ask for it.

      • Bill


        In 1946, Congress passed a law that gave hospitals, nursing homes and other health facilities grants and loans for construction and modernization. In return, they agreed to provide a reasonable volume of services to persons unable to pay and to make their services available to all persons residing in the facility’s area. .

        The only facility in Aiken County offering a Hill-Burton plan is –
        CLEARWATER 29822

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