I have written often on the extent to which South Carolina taxpayers are forced to subsidize all manner of expenses which do not even remotely qualify as core functions of government. I’m not just talking about market-distorting corporate cronyism, either.
The Palmetto State’s ongoing subsidization of results-challenge, ports, power companies, hospitals and higher education institutions not only costs taxpayers on the front end – it creates a drain on economic competitiveness on the back end.
Taxpayers are literally shelling out for things that hurt our state’s economy …
An arch-offender in this arena? The Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) – a state-run hospital which spares no expense (of yours) as it seeks to expand its domineering, anti-competitive reach across the state’s health care industry.
As I noted last summer, MUSC – which is anchored in Charleston, S.C. – has been engaged in a “government blitzkrieg against the free market (or what’s left of it) in the Palmetto State.”
Last August, it obtained four Midlands-area hospitals as part of a dubious deal approved by a five-member panel of state political leaders. Not only that, these political leaders approved $80 million in new taxpayer debt to subsidize the purchase.
No public discussion was allowed on either vote …
Previously, lawmakers blocked the sale of these hospitals to private sector provider Prisma Health.
Back in January, I reported on MUSC’s planned Upstate invasion, a “massive expansion of its operations in the one area of the state where most citizens already have access to (and can already afford) quality health care.”
That expansion will require a multi-million dollar investment from Greenville County taxpayers, by the way, due to alleged “financial challenges” associated with privately funded facilities.
The beat went on this week …
In a record-breaking $34.6 billion state budget for the coming fiscal year – one which grows government by 12.2 percent from the previous year – one lawmaker is proposing yet another giveaway to MUSC.
State representative Bill Herbkersman of Bluffton, S.C. wants to give the hospital a controversial $27.7 million appropriation to conduct a “clinical trial for an investigational drug to be used in the treatment of Covid-19.”
Wait … what?
South Carolina taxpayers are paying for a government-run hospital to conduct clinical trials?
“This is a crapshoot of an expenditure,” one critic of the appropriation told me. “Big Pharma has a success rate of less than eight percent on investigational drugs. Why would the state want to gamble this money away when we have so many other needs?”
Correct … like public safety. Or long-overdue, legitimate infrastructure projects. Or (gasp) … tax relief for small business and individual income earners currently getting crushed by inflation.
Other states are helping out their citizens … why isn’t ours?
RELATED | MUSC: ANOTHER ASSAULT ON THE FREE MARKET
The source I spoke with had other ideas for this money, though.
“Perhaps the funds could be used to provide relief to rural hospitals that have struggled for the past two years,” they suggested. “Or perhaps the funds could be used to pay bonuses to nurses who are struggling with inflation and high gas prices now.”
Frankly, either of those ideas is better than blowing taxpayer cash on some experimental drug research that has less than a one-in-ten chance of panning out. Seriously, MUSC is already set to receive a whopping $844.89 million in the upcoming state budget – an 8.8 percent increase from the $776.5 million it is receiving in the current fiscal year.
Why are lawmakers throwing even more of our money at the institution?
Again, I have no problem with government subsidizing certain health care expenditures as a core function of government – if it is done the right way.
“I believe government should make allowances for essential health care services as part of a limited social safety net – while at the same time performing essential regulatory functions of the health care industry (including the protection of patient privacy rights),” I noted earlier this year. “However, it is my view government should never compete directly in either the health care delivery or health insurance industries.”
Sadly, MUSC is continuing to receive mad stacks of taxpayer cash to do just that …
ABOUT THE AUTHOR …
Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven children.
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BANNER VIA: MUSC