Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Haley Watch: Nikki wastes another $1M, needs tutorial in how to govern

This just in from the intrepid Renee Dudley of the Charleston Post and Courier:

SC Gov. Haley dictated health panel finding
Outcome ordered before committee met
Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Gov. Nikki Haley dictated the conclusions of a committee charged with deciding how the state should implement federal health care reform before the group ever held its first meeting, public documents show.

Now, some of those involved in the dozens of meetings are calling the entire planning process a sham that wasted their time and part of a $1 million federal grant.

In a March 31 email thread that included Haley, her top advisers and the committee member who eventually wrote the report, Haley wrote, "The whole point of this commission should be to figure out how to opt out and how to avoid a federal takeover, NOT create a state exchange," which is eventually what happened.

A central part of the federal health care overhaul, an exchange is a marketplace where various insurance plans eventually will be sold.

The emails were released to the newspaper Friday afternoon in response to a Nov. 16 public records request to the S.C. Department of Health and Human Services.

The newspaper had made a nearly identical request of the governor's office in May, but the office did not include the emails in its response.

The documents show a first-term Republican administration focused on public perception of its handling of the Democratic health care reform law. They also reveal the tight control Haley and her top aides exercise over other state agencies, requiring media inquiries to various state departments to pass through the governor's office for inspection.

"Oh my God, we just threw $1 million away here," said Frank Knapp, who participated in the meetings as president of the S.C. Small Business Chamber of Commerce. "This confirms this whole thing was an effort to justify the million-dollar grant, but the reality is they had no intention of even exploring whether the state should establish an exchange -- which is exactly what the grant called for."

Through a spokesman, Haley said she had no time to be interviewed Tuesday or today for this story. Spokesman Rob Godfrey said the governor's office responded fairly to questions about the committee.

"She has a lot to do over the next few days in preparation for the holidays," he said. "It's just a matter of a tight schedule."

Godfrey did not respond to questions related to the email discrepancy. In an email, he wrote, "The governor calls it watching out for the citizens of our state as we try to deliver the most health care for the least amount of money."

Lack of oversight

In a March 10 executive order, Haley established the nonpartisan South Carolina Health Planning Committee to "build trust and consensus among stakeholders" and to decide "whether or not the state should establish a health insurance exchange."

States that decline to set up their own exchanges are subject to federally run ones beginning in 2014.

Members of the nonpartisan committee and its four subcommittees, who met more than 30 times over the past seven months, did exactly that. In a report sent to the governor two weeks ago, the panel rejected the idea of a state-run exchange, saying South Carolina has few incentives to be a "first-mover" nationally.

Instead, it would "encourage and facilitate ... private exchanges," the report said.

It is unclear whether federal health officials will accept the private solution, but consumer advocates have raised concerns about lack of oversight and regulation. Insurance exchanges are the state- or federally-established marketplaces where health coverage will be sold to individuals and small business employees beginning in 2014.

Copied on Haley's March email thread was S.C. Health and Human Services Director Tony Keck, an influential member of the Health Planning Committee established by executive order.
Read it all.

I told yall NOT to vote for this woman, didn't I? (sigh) Her wanton mismanagement just gets worse and worse.

Here is the short version:
The newly released emails enraged consumer advocates, small business leaders, local economists, taxpayer watchdogs and S.C. Press Association officials this week.

"They took the money on the pretense they would conduct an objective analysis of whether the state should do the exchange or not," said John Crangle, executive director of Common Cause of South Carolina. "But they decided what they were going to find before they even started the research process."
This seems to be Haley's standard method of governance.