On June 14, however, Gov. Haley vetoed the bill.
Sponsored by state Sens. Jackson, Hayes, O'Dell, Rose, Ford and Knotts, the “Stroke Prevention Act” called for the Dept. of Health and Environmental Control to certify hospitals as primary and acute stroke centers, to improve the time and format of healthcare response to stroke patients, to aid data collection for use by DHEC to determine improvements needed in stroke medical care and prevention, and to create public information programs that would help reduce the rate of its occurrence in South Carolina.
In formal letter to the senate, Haley defended her veto because DHEC already has means to operate the Act’s goals under more general programs, she said.
However, South Carolina remains in the “Stroke Belt,” one of 11 states with abnormally high rates of the incident, according to the National Institutes of Health. In fact, stroke is the dominant cause of long-term disability in the state, and is its third highest cause of death.
Amongst the 50 states, Washington DC and Puerto Rico, South Carolina ranks fifth highest in stroke-related deaths, which numbered 2,460 in the last reported year of 2007.
Haley’s rejection was also based on the “additional half-million dollars in recurrent appropriations” the Stroke Prevention Act would cost in operation, her letter declared.
Proponents of S.588 declare it would actually reduce costs upon the state, however.
According to a study by the Millken Institute, the total annual medical costs for stroke in South Carolina are $250 million. The yearly costs upon Medicaid alone for treating stroke victims in the state are an estimated $173 million, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In addition, stroke can remove persons from the workforce, thus removing their contributions in sales and state income taxes. The American Heart Association reports approximately 30 percent of all surviving stroke victims are moderately-to-severely disabled following medical discharge, potentially eliminating their ability to work and its resultant wages.
And according to YoungStroke, Inc., an advocacy group for non-senior citizen stroke victims headquartered in Conway, almost half of the state’s residents who undergo stroke are between the working ages of 20 and 65.
Yesterday’s veto marked the tenth by Haley so far in her short term in office, which began early this year.
It was also the third veto related to healthcare in the state, and second veto of a bill that called for inclusion of DHEC authority.
S.588 called for creation of a council, chaired by the director of DHEC, to maintain and advise on operation of the Act.
According to recent report in The State, DHEC once denied approval of a new heart surgery facility at the Lexington Medical Center, which previously employed Haley as a fundraiser.