Congressman Tom Rice, the U.S. representative for South Carolina's 7th congressional district, met with local hospital officials at Georgetown Memorial Hospital on Monday.
With him was Congressman Tom Price, a leader in the U.S. House of Representatives who serves Georgia’s 6th congressional district.
Georgetown was one of several stops the two congressmen made before attending a symposium about health care in Florence, S.C.
“In our area, Georgetown Hospital System is our third largest industry,” Rice said. “I am doing anything I can to help improve health care in my district.”
They visited the emergency department and the orthopedics floor as part of their tour.
Gayle Resetar, COO of the Georgetown Hospital System, and other board members and staff welcomed Rice and Price and shared the hospital’s accomplishments and concerns with them.
CEO Bruce Bailey was out of town and unable to attend the meeting.
Resetar told the congressmen that the hospital system has doubled in the last 10 years, they have opened another hospital and have added outpatient locations — including imaging, cancer treatment and rehabilitation — from North Myrtle Beach to Andrews.
Resetar said one of the hospital system’s main concerns is covering the cost of uninsured patients, especially after South Carolina declined Medicaid expansion as part of “Obamacare.”
The expansion would have allowed the “working poor” to qualify for Medicaid, which was designed to ease the burden on those citizens and hospitals.
Resetar said hospitals are now working to reduce the amount of time patients stay in the hospital, delaying equipment replacement, and are looking at reducing services due to budget restraints.
“Over time I think that will impact the quality of health care here,” she said.
Another concern Resetar mentioned was how the hospital system will pay for phase two of its renovation of Georgetown Memorial Hospital.
“We are $4 million short of the one-and-a-half percent margin to fund the second phase of construction,” she said. “We are reviewing all the numbers for our next budget cycle.”
Price said he recently introduced the Empowering Patients First Act (H.R. 2300), which would permanently repeal President Obama’s health care law and replace it with “patient-centered solutions.”
“This alternative to Obamacare would allow patients and doctors to make the important decisions about health care, not Washington,” Price said.
He previously sponsored the Empowering Patients First Act in the 111th and 112th Congresses as H.R. 3400 and H.R. 3000, respectively.
Price serves on the House Committee on Ways and Means, as well as the House Committee on Education and the Workforce.
For nearly 20 years, Price worked in private practice as an orthopedic surgeon.

By Clayton Stairs