The Palmetto Insider

The blog of the South Carolina Policy Council

Senate Medical Affairs Subcommittee Hearing: September 23, 2009

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Yesterday, the Senate Medical Affairs Subcommittee met to discuss three restructuring bills. These measures aim to improve state government efficiency by streamlining five health agencies and eliminating duplication.

Members of the Subcommittee are:

• Senator Danny Verdin, Subcommittee Chairman

• Senator David Thomas (not present at Wednesday’s meeting)

• Senator Darrell Jackson

• Senator Brad Hutto

• Senator Ray Cleary

 The bills up for discussion were:

S 384 – Dissolves the board of the Department of Health & Environmental Control (DHEC) and replaces it with a governor appointed director charged with managing the agency. This bill would establish two boards under the director – a Board of Health and a Board of Environmental Control – each consisting of three members appointed by the governor. Predictably, the current commissioner of DHEC, Earl Hunter, opposed the move, saying that putting DHEC under the governor’s authority would lead to politically and emotionally charged decisions subject to political pressure.

H 3199 – Consolidates the Department of Mental Health, the Department of Alcohol & Other Drug Abuse Services, and the Continuum of Care in order to create a cabinet level agency called the Department of Behavioral Health Services.

According to agency head W. Lee Catoe, the Department of Alcohol & Other Drug Abuse Services (DAODAS) has already begun the restructuring process that would be required by H 3199. By getting new office space and reducing staff and vehicle usage, DAODAS has saved approximately $2 million over the last two years. Mr. Catoe is in favor of this legislation and believes it will provide for more collaboration and a better use of resources.

H 3314 – Gives the governor authority to appoint a director of the Department of Disabilities & Special Needs. The SC Commission on Disabilities & Special Needs, which currently administers the Department, would instead serve as an advisory board to the director.

Andy Laurent, interim director of the Department of Disabilities & Special Needs, spoke in opposition of H 3314, saying that it doesn’t provide for the proper level of openness. Laurent, however, failed to explain what he meant by this comment.

The Senate Medical Affairs Subcommittee meeting concluded with members agreeing to solicit input from the public in written format by October 5th. Senators will study material received and prepare for testimony at the next meeting. A public hearing is tentatively set for Wednesday, October 14th, to discuss these bills, with S 384 at the top of the agenda.


Written by SC Policy Council

September 24, 2009 at 3:23 pm

Posted in Committee Meetings

One Response

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  1. […] Affairs Subcommittee met Wednesday to discuss three bills: S.384, H.3199 and H.3314. As reported here, the committee last met on […]

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