Decades of Republican leadership has "gutted" South Carolina's public health system, leaving the state woefully unprepared for the coronavirus pandemic.
Conservative governors like Nikki Haley and Mark Sanford have pursued a relentless quest wit GOP state lawmakers to shrink the government and privatize basic services, but cuts to the health department and infrastructure have left residents in poor and rural areas with little access to badly needed care during the COVID-19 crisis, reported The Guardian.
“Haley and Sanford have been gutting our state health agency for over 10 years,” said Democratic state Sen. Vincent Sheheen. “It’s no surprise doctors are left reusing their masks.”
Haley, Sanford and current Gov. Henry McMaster have chosen not to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, which has left thousands of working-class families without health insurance and with less access to medical care.
South Carolina has some of the highest rates of heart disease and respiratory issues in the U.S., because many uninsured residents are unable to be treated for underlying health conditions.
At least six rural hospitals have closed since 2010, and legislatures have stripped millions from state’s Department of Health and Environmental Control.
South Carolina is now trying to grapple with more than 4,600 coronavirus cases, and hospital beds are already half full in the state.
“We see this combination of higher rates of chronic conditions combined with poor access in the state,” Artiga said. “That leaves a population at higher risk of experiencing complications if they have COVID.”