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Why S.C. Needs A “Prevent Defense” August 22, 2007

Posted by fitsnews in US Politics.



FITSNews – August 22, 2007 – Let’s be honest, the good folks at the Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease aren’t pitching a tent in South Carolina for the weather. Nor did they come here for the seafood, the golf or our state’s world-renowned beaches. Amazingly, they’re not even here because our state has the worst record in the nation when it comes to fighting chronic diseases like diabetes – although that certainly makes their pitch to Palmetto State voters considerably easier.

Like its fellow grassrooters over at the ONE campaign, the Partnership is making its presence felt in South Carolina for one reason and one reason only – our state’s “First in the South” presidential primaries. From advertisements on popular political websites like SCHotline and The Palmetto Scoop to the ubiquitous presence of dozens of “Fight Chronic Disease” T-Shirts at various campaign events, the Partnership is planting its flag in our state in a big way – holding press conferences, assembling e-mail lists, recruiting volunteers and engaging in other coalition-building efforts across party lines.

It’s a simple equation – drive the debate in South Carolina and you’ll force the twenty candidates running for president to speak to your issues on the national stage.

Of course, given the unmitigated disaster that is South Carolina’s current health care situation, we happen to believe the Partnership’s efforts serve another, more critical purpose. Not only do the candidates running for our nation’s highest office need to comprehend the root cost driver of a Medicare system that gobbled up $408 billion worth of taxpayer resources in 2006, but South Carolinians need to understand that their poor lifestyle choices, aversion to health insurance and lack of education about chronic diseases and preventative treatments is slowly turning our state into a third-world country.

As part of the Partnership’s efforts, former U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Richard Carmona was in Columbia yesterday delivering a speech on the importance of preventative care at the University of South Carolina’s Arnold School of Public Health.

“We’ve successfully built a system that’s based on treating illness after it occurs rather than promoting health and wellness,” Dr. Carmona said. “We’re a treatment-focused society, when the real social and economic benefits come from being prevention focused.”

According to a poll released by the organization this week, an overwhelming majority of voters are in agreement. In fact, 8 out of 10 Americans say they believe the United States should prioritize health care dollars to “invest more in preventive measures to ensure that diseases are prevented or kept from becoming more serious.”

Unfortunately, that’s not what’s happening in South Carolina.

Instead of getting ahead of the curve, our state’s disproportionately poor, uneducated, uninsured and overweight populace remains by and large oblivious to dangerous warning signs about common chronic diseases, forcing them to rely on costly emergency room care when disaster inevitably strikes. Exorbitant treatment costs for those without insurance are then passed on to the consumer in the form of higher premiums, which in turn inhibits the state’s economic competitiveness.

The depth of South Carolina’s health care crisis is indeed staggering. Our state is among the nation’s leaders in the prevalence of numerous chronic diseases including cancer, stroke, diabetes and HIV/AIDS. Orangeburg County, located in one of South Carolina’s many poor, predominantly rural areas, is known as the “Buckle of the Stroke Belt” because its residents have the highest stroke rate of any county in the entire nation. And speaking of third-world resemblance, South Carolina’s infant mortality rate is currently higher than that of war-ravaged Croatia, which is hardly surprising considering that 60% of all live births in the state are covered by Medicaid – far outpacing the national average.

In addition to these sobering statistics, South Carolina’s availability of quality health care is deteriorating almost as fast as our citizens’ health. According to the United Health Foundation, approximately 20% of our population is without health insurance, up from just 12% in 1990. Another 18-20% of the population is on Medicaid.

Even more disturbing is the ignorance and poor lifestyle choices consistently evidenced by our citizens. For example, clinical obesity – a driving factor in almost all of the chronic diseases afflicting our state – is rampant in our state. Studies now show that 29% of South Carolinians now fall into this high-risk weight category compared to just 25% two years ago.

This is the bleak picture the Partnership is intent on painting in advance of the 2008 primaries, as the nation’s political spotlight is squarely focused on the Palmetto State in the months, weeks and days leading up to the January presidential primary vote.

Several in-state groups are also actively involved in meeting our state’s health care challenge, including the Covering Carolina Collaborative, which is the brainchild of S.C. Blue Cross Blue Shield CEO Ed Sellers and former Palmetto Health CEO Kester Freeman. Two of the most influential health care policy experts in the state, Sellers and Freeman are working with former DHHS Director Robbie Kerr with the goal of making sure all South Carolinians are receiving adequate health care insurance by the year 2010.

Not surprisingly, a primary focus of the Collaborative is improving South Carolina’s preventative care efforts.

S.C. First Lady Jenny Sanford has also been front-and-center on the preventative health care front through her Healthy South Carolina initiative, which is focused on lifestyle changes and wellness issues as a way of reducing the risk of chronic disease.

We’ll be writing more about the health care issue in the days and weeks to come (looking in detail at solutions like expanding Medicaid eligibility and offering tax incentives to businesses that provide insurance), but given the epidemic currently confronting our state, the work of these groups in raising public awareness and influencing individual behavior with respect to healthier living is clearly much bigger than any political election.

Click here to learn more about the Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease.



1. Syd - August 22, 2007

Wow. A new low. Now Schtick Willie is blaming the poor and the sick for being poor and sick. What a visionary! Jesus would be so proud.

Perhaps if his new friends at Blue Cross/Blue Shield and this “Partnership” group (read: insurance lobby) had been more concerned with preventative medicine every time they fought legislative efforts over the past 30 years to eliminate “pre-existing condition” exclusions for the disabled and chronically ill, or to provide women with pre-natal care or children with nutritional programs in schools or annual health information, screenings and immunizations, maybe there wouldn’t be so many sick and poor.

Rather than advocating the handling of the healthcare systems by the billion-dollar insurance corporations whose sole interest is profits, perhaps Schtick Willie should focus on the true villains of our healthcare system, the insurance and pharmaceutical companies and their lobbyists’ greed – not the grotesque and distorted logic that people are costing corporations too much money because of their LIFESTYLE . That is just the same old mis-guided and immoral Reagan Republican schtick we’ve heard for 30 years: the poor are poor because they want to be and “welfare queens” are driving around in lavish, tricked-out Cadillacs and drinking champaign from Silver Goblets on their way to collect their monthly government check.

If Schtick Willie actually cared about the health and well-being of the poor and the sick in this state rather than how much they might be eating into the record profits of the billion-dollar insurance industry, he would be advocating for change to the laws to provide healthcare for everyone through a non-profit system — not blaming the people for being poor or sick.

What a priveleged, prep-school existence Willie has led. Obviously, he’s never seen a long-term illness close up or had to choose between paying rent or paying for his medication.

Of course, you won’t hear him talking about the real problems facing the sick and the poor because they won’t be buying advertising on his blog or paying him to stump for their causes.

2. FITSNews - August 22, 2007

Wow. Who the hell let Michael Moore on the blog this AM?

Seriously Syd, get a grip. Attacking Sic Willie like this is pretty pathetic. “Privileged prep school existence?” You might try asking his former teachers at Windsor Elementary, E.L. Wright Middle or Spring Valley High School about that – public schools every one of them.

Also, the last time we checked being the son of a college professor wasn’t exactly a “privileged” upbringing. Good seats for football games? Yes. Lap of luxury? Hardly.

And to be perfectly honest, before you go jumping to conclusions about people’s families and the chronic diseases they may or may not have, you should know that Will’s mother nearly lost her life several years ago due to a heart condition. Of course you didn’t know that, just as you know nothing about any illnesses he has or hasn’t had to face in his life.

Of course, as is so typical of the “haters,” you are ignorant and don’t know any better. Attempting to make Will Folks the issue is just too easy, but you weren’t even creative about it. One day he’s a loser with no clients, the next day he’s on everybody’s payroll, right? Make up your damn mind.

Our goal in writing this article (as with the article we wrote about the ONE campaign the other day) was solely to discuss the fact that there are groups in South Carolina as a result of the ’08 primaries and that this is one group whose efforts coincide with a serious problem in our state. That’s it.

We’ll also be writing about Ed in ’08, Divided We Fail and other groups looking to engage Palmetto voters in advance of the upcoming presidential primary season. So are we on all of their payrolls? Was The State newspaper on all of their payrolls when it covered their activities so extensively two Sundays ago?

Get a grip, dude. And look before you leap next time …


3. Believe It Not - August 22, 2007

Vouchers, Will! Vouchers are clearly the solution to all of the health care issues facing S.C. Divert tax money to health care vouchers.

Give the sick more choices. The grass roots organizations and web sites are already in place. Just add another link to SCRG and VFSC.

4. back on track - August 22, 2007

seems like the point is this is where we are and whomever is to blame that changes nothing about the problem.

it is still there and these facts do check out.

i am for one glad that sic willie is writing about this because state leaders read his stuff and it may be they will feel pressure to do something about this. the campaigns also read his blog too.

syd needs to take his medicine.

5. ludacris - August 22, 2007

step on ’em sic willie!!

great post btw!!!!

6. Give Me FITS - August 23, 2007


Good to see you back in your old form. That said, you forgot the Strom Problem schtick. Probably lack of practice. Either that, or your cut-and-paste function is busted.

Don’t get lazy (lazier?) on us.

7. Insurance Man - August 23, 2007

We need to make the already provided medical insurance to elderly, vets, and others efficient before we talk national healthcare. Walk before you crawl.

Health insurance rates going down. LOL What was Rudy thinking?

8. anonymous - August 24, 2007

Hey Sid – did you bother to follow the links about the group he’s talking about? Here are SC’s partners: http://www.fightchronicdisease.com/pdfs/PFCDSCPartners8-10.pdf from their Web site.

Even the partners like 100 Black Men of Charleston, YMCA & Communicare talk about getting people to take better care of themselves as part of what we have to do to fix our health care crisis. Are they “blaming the poor and sick”? You can’t seriously believe that we all shouldn’t do more to improve our own health. That’s the part Will talks about because that’s Will, but that’s not all they’re saying. Try reading a little before you jump all over something – even you might be able to learn a little.

9. A-Nod - August 24, 2007

Will most defininately sucks and he is probably on the Blue Cross payroll but I do not see how Syd is winning points with his argument.

Whether fat cat insurance providers or drug companies are paying his salary or not, numbers don’t lie.

10. South Carolina Is Full Of Fat People « FITSNews For Now - August 27, 2007

[…] – August 27, 2007 – We wrote just last week about how South Carolinians were getting fatter, and how our state’s growing obesity problem […]

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