Governor McMaster’s first State of the State since being re-elected in November was heavy on major policy proposals regarding education and economic growth. In the speech, McMaster championed South Carolina’s “red hot” status as he called for, among other things, a $2.2 billion tax cut, a 5% teacher pay raise, and a $100 million “Rural School District Economic Development Closing Fund” working to bring new jobs and investment into the state’s poorest school districts.
Amid these major announcements, McMaster also touched on the recent strides the state government has made on the healthcare front since he assumed office nearly two years ago—specifically, the opioid crisis and access to care.
While acknowledging that South Carolina is still very much still dealing with the “silent hurricane” of opioid addiction as deaths continue to rise, McMaster noted that he declared a statewide public health emergency in 2018 and “mobiliz[ed] the full power of the state’s emergency infrastructure in response to the growth of opioid addiction and abuse.” He also celebrated the bevy of opioid bills the legislature passed last session that tightened regulations around prescribing practices and increased opioid monitoring efforts. He referred to the package as “what must be the most comprehensive set of laws in the country addressing this crisis across the spectrum of law enforcement, education and healthcare.
The Governor sidestepped contentious questions about the future of Medicaid expansion or work requirements for South Carolina, but he did take time to acknowledge the expanded scope of practice granted to nurse practitioners last year and the continued growth of telehealth, particularly MUSC’s Health Center for Telehealth, which, he noted “is now designated a National Telehealth Center of Excellence—one of only two in the country.”
Other polices tangentially touched on healthcare topics, like his plan to increase scholarship funds for students going to technical college for associate degrees and certificates to meet the workforce needs of, among other things, the modern healthcare landscape.
The State of the State typically serves as a guideline for the coming debate over the budget which will actually be crafted by the legislature at the State House. SCHA will keep a close watch and provide its perspective and leadership regarding healthcare in South Carolina.
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