Letters to the Editor

Clinics for underserved continue to be necessary

Thank you for the story on the new director at the Hilton Head Island Volunteers in Medicine Clinic. I wanted to follow up with some facts about health care in South Carolina.

South Carolina ranks 46th in the nation on health, and that ranking has been declining for the past three years. Almost 20 percent of its 4.7 million residents (911, 800) are uninsured; 60 percent of South Carolina's uninsured are working, but more than half of the small business owners ( with 1 to 10 employees) do not offer health insurance, and the majority cannot afford to purchase health insurance. The lack of preventive care and management of chronic conditions predict the pattern of increased mortality in this population.

The impact of declining Medicaid expansion is forebodingly clear. We will not see a reduction in our uninsured numbers. The hospitals, which have largely provided emergent health care, will receive reduced fees and no financial incentives linked with the Medicaid expansion. State Health and Human Services director Tony Keck has suggested free health clinics, rural health clinics and community health clinics will be used to help treat the increasing numbers of patients who would ordinarily go to the emergency room. Unfortunately, the $35 million seed money is inadequate, and there is no ongoing funding to sustain this endeavor.

There is a resounding need for VIM and other programs aimed at providing health care to the uninsured. I invite continued donations and volunteer services to ensure its valuable work in our community.

Candace Coggins

Hilton Head Island