Health in Brief for Jan. 23, 2017 (Post and Courier)

Analysis looks at impact of ACA repeal

South Carolina could potentially lose more than $56 million in public health funding if Obamacare is repealed, a new study shows

Some of this money is used to provide vaccines to low-income children and to prevent infectious disease. 

The analysis, prepared by the Trust for America's Health, also estimates the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention may lose $5 billion over five years. 

"The impact will be felt at the local, state and federal levels as public health organizations respond to several major health crises that are on the rise," the group explained in its analysis.

Surgery center declines Obamacare plans

The Southeastern Spine Institute will no longer accept Affordable Care Act insurance plans. 

A spokeswoman for BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina explained that the office opted to terminate "its professional participation in the exchange network."

BlueCross BlueShield is the only company that sells Obamacare plans to customers in this state. The changes also apply to plans purchased through the private, individual market, the BlueCross BlueShield spokeswoman said. 

"However, we remain open to their rejoining in the future," she said. 

Ideas to improve public health evaluated

The South Carolina Medicaid agency is exploring new ways to tackle public health problems with federal money using a financing mechanism called "pay for success." 

Such projects could target one of many different public health goals, such as lowering the suicide rate, decreasing opioid-related deaths, managing sickle cell disease or preventing child fatalities. 

"You need ways to connect Medicaid payments to specific tangible measurable outcomes," said S.C. Medicaid Director Christian Soura. 

The agency recently closed a "request for information" from outside groups to brainstorm what potential projects might look like. Now, officials are evaluating all the feedback. 

The projects would improve public health, but they also may save public dollars. 

"If you can find ways to save Medicaid money, you’re largely saving the federal government money," Soura said. 

Parents urged to vaccinate children against HPV

The Medical University of South Carolina's Hollings Cancer Center issued a joint statement last week with 68 other National Cancer Institute-designated centers, calling for "a critical need to improve national vaccination rates for the human papillomavirus."

HPV can lead to certain cancers, including cervical and throat cancers. 

The CDC estimates that 39,000 new HPV-associated cancers are diagnosed each year in the United States.

According to a statement published by MUSC, South Carolina ranks 11th in the country for cervical cancer incidence and ninth in cervical cancer deaths.

Still, the CDC reports fewer than 42 percent of girls and fewer than 29 percent of boys across the country complete the recommended vaccine series to prevent HPV. 

New breast milk donation sites added


Trident Medical Center and Summerville Medical Center are now accepting breast milk donations from new moms in the area on behalf of the Mother's Milk Bank of South Carolina.

Mothers who wish to donate their excess milk must be pre-screened. They will not be reimbursed for their donations. 

Breast milk donations are processed and pasteurzied at the milk bank in North Charleston, then distributed to hospitals across the state. The milk is generally used to feed very low birthweight babies in neonatal intensive care units. 

For more information about pre-screening and donating, visit the milk bank's website,

Registration open for Moms' Run

Participants may now sign up for the 14th annual Moms’ Run + Family Fun Day. The 5K run/walk will take place May 13 at MUSC Health Stadium on Daniel Island. 

The event benefits Postpartum Support Charleston.

“So many new moms suffer in silence from this all-too-common illness. We want mothers to know they are not alone,” said Elaine DeaKyne, a postpartum depression survivor and board president for the group. “Our race not only provides important funds for our work in the Charleston area, but also is a way for all of us to join together and raise up the mothers in our community.”

For more information, or to register, visit

Trident Medical Center embarks on renovation

The North Charleston hospital is scheduled to begin a $13.5 million expansion of its emergency department today. 

The renovations will include additional room for patients in the ER, as well as more space for surgical and imaging services. 

- Lauren Sausser

Reach Lauren Sausser at 843-937-5598.