One of our key allies in the fight to prevent unnecessary hospital utilization is in grave danger as a result of two consecutive years of state budget cuts. Welvista, the South Carolina organization that receives branded pharmaceuticals and dispenses them to low income, uninsured residents of our state, has been decimated by the state budget for the second year in a row. Last year alone Welvista provided over $46 million in free drugs to uninsured patients with chronic diseases, and the impact was to significantly reduce emergency room and inpatient utilization.
Welvista struggled through the first half of 2010 to survive until July 1, when the new state budget year began. That's because numerous lawmakers assured Welvista the organization's funding would be restored in the 2010-2011 state budget. They were true to their word—Welvista's funding was partially restored in the budget sent to the Governor. Unfortunately, the Governor vetoed the portion of the budget containing Welvista's funds, and the House sustained the Governor's veto. As a result, Welvista is not likely to survive without fundamentally reworking its business model.
Welvista works because it provides a single source through which health care providers, health care facilities and pharmaceutical companies can donate their resources. It has established unparalleled partnerships with medical providers, free clinics, hospital-affiliated clinics, pharmacies and pharmaceutical companies to create a network that makes care accessible and affordable for those with no other options.
The organization is working with its partners in a desperate effort to secure the funding necessary to continue its critical role in our state and ensure maximum impact on unnecessary admissions and readmissions to hospitals.
Welvista's budget crisis is real and immediate. Unfortunately, time is of the essence, and we cannot afford to lose this key ally in the fight to reduce preventable readmissions.