With the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, just a few months away, SC 7th District Representative Tom Rice is taking a more public stance on health care.

Rice visited hospitals around the district Wednesday with a fellow Republican congressman who Rice calls the "go-to guy" on health care issues.

Rice said his tour, accompanied by Georgia 6th District Rep. Tom Price, was about listening to people who work in the real world of treating patients.

"I want to do everything I can to be available to the health care industry and do whatever we can to promote the health of our constituents and the health of the health care industry," Rice said.

Price spent 20 years as an orthopaedic surgeon in the Atlanta area before he was elected to Congress.

He recently sponsored a bill that would give tax credits to help people buy health insurance, but wouldn't mandate coverage.

Price says his bill is more focused on patients than is Obamacare.

"HR 2300 is a bill that solves the problems of coverage and insurance challenges, saves hundreds of billions of dollars, makes certain that we move in the direction of patient-centered health care, which is patients and families and doctors making medical decisions, not Washington, DC," said Price.

Both congressmen got an earful from Georgetown Hospital System officials about financial problems they face.

They said Obamacare will cut Medicare payments to hospitals, while South Carolina has chosen to not expand Medicaid payments.

The result is that Georgetown Hospital will have to make some $12 million in cuts, while treating at least the same number of patients.

"We're looking at every expense, every contract, we've been working on this through the course of the year, made changes to contractual relationships, with third parties, and we're not finished," said Georgetown Hospital chief operating officer Gayle Resetar.

Resetar says there's a proposed bill that would delay those Medicare cuts and if it passes, that would help, but in the meantime, they'll keep working on finding ways to save money.

BY: JOEL ALLEN

FLORENCE – In one of a series of symposiums taking place around the seventh congressional district in South Carolina this summer, U.S. Rep. Tom Rice joined forces with U.S. Rep. Tom Price, R-GA 6th district, a physician by trade, to talk healthcare reform and other alternatives to the Affordable Care Act on Monday.

The two Republican representatives spoke to a group of healthcare providers, businessmen and women and education providers at a luncheon at Francis Marion University before touring the school’s state-of-the-art Frank B. Lee Nursing building on campus.

Rice said the event was just one in a series of events on different topics he is having in an effort to better understand the people in his district.

“This is a new congressional district and I’m a new congressman so I’m trying to get out with the public to let people know that I’m listening, that I care and that I want to focus on solutions that are good for them,” Rice said. “If people have concerns then I want to know about them.

“I’m trying to talk to them about what I can do to help them, particularly in this district, but also in getting the economy going, promoting job creation and making sure the people’s needs are met and their quality of life improves.”

Bringing Rep. Price along for Monday’s healthcare chat was important to Rice, who is supporting Price’s Republican alternative to the ACA – House bill H.R. 2300 – which Price says focuses on getting people covered while solving insurance challenges, saving hundreds of billions of dollars through lawsuit abuse for claims and does so without raising taxes or putting Washington in charge.

“That’s really the key – the patients ought to be in charge, not Washington or the insurance companies,” Price said. “If you think about the sorts of things you want from healthcare – to pick your doctor, where you’re going to be treated, when and how – the president’s law makes it so that’s more difficult for you, this makes it so you’re more in charge.”

Price said the main reason he visited the seventh district with Rice was so he could take back to Washington people’s concerns over the ACA, particularly medical provider concerns “that these folks have about just being able to do their job and have Washington get out of the way.”

Rice and Price both agreed that what they are hearing from their constituents, medical providers and from citizens around the country is an uneasiness with the ACA that leaves them unsure of their rights or coverage, and Rice said that is causing a problem with the economy as well.

“The American public is not in favor of the ACA, and businesses certainly aren’t,” Rice said. “The ACA is one of the reasons why the economy continues to move forward so slowly because people are uncertain – they don’t know how it’s going to affect them. It dis-incentivizes businesses from hiring new employees.”

BY LINDSAY S. BUCHANAN Morning News lbuchanan@florencenews.com

MULLINS, S.C. – Congressman Tom Rice and his staff were in Mullins to meet with more than 30 constituents from the 7th Congressional district Friday in a mini forum inside the Anderson Brothers Bank Conference Center.

“This was kind of a central place for people from all over the district to meet and talk about how we can work together to solve problems,” Rice said. “The biggest issue for our district is economic development, jobs and infrastructure and we had people here today that are experts in every one of those fields to try and help us push forward.”

Joining Rice to provide overviews were Jeff Mckay director of the North Eastern Strategic Alliance, Greg Davis of the S.C. Department of Commerce and Bill Taylor with the Municipal Association of South Carolina.

McKay shared information regarding the organizations collaborative and cooperative efforts to recruit jobs and capital investment. Representing nine counties, McKay said NESA plays a role in marketing sites and partnering for certification. “We got a diverse manufacturing base,” he said. McKay added more attention is being paid to agribusiness and its an opportunity for the area to be the state’s poster child on how good business could be.

District 57 Rep. Wayne George has been a proponent of agribusiness since being on the campaign trail last year. “We have to get good at something,” George said. “I think agribusiness can bring all levels of jobs.”

Davis shared information on his role with the small business regulatory review and working with commerce in developing small businesses.

“Ninety-seven percent of all business in South Carolina is small business,” he said. “We make sure work is given to our small business when larger companies come in.”

Davis said to help share information and resources the website scbiznetwork.com was created.

Taylor discussed the municipal association’s funding opportunities along with training programs and technical assistance.

Rice said the district has to get in the game and try to make changes in order to compete.

“We’re trying everything we can to make a connection between the federal government and your job,” Rice said. “And we’re going to try and make your job easier.”

Rice said he is already working on two of the biggest infrastructure projects in the region in I-73 and the Georgetown port.

Overall, local officials welcomed the opportunity to work collectively as a district.

George said the area has a lot of needs and senses leadership is working together. “I think it’s more than about just creating jobs but making sure we have a skilled workforce,” George said. “I represent mostly a rural area and jobs are important along with creating a brighter economic area.”

Marion Mayor Bobby Davis said the forum was productive. “It gave me an opportunity to listen to some possibilities and means of getting some funding to help us with some of the projects that we’re planning for the city of Marion,” Davis said. “It lets us know he’s available and that he seems to care about what is happening in our municipalities and I certainly applaud him for that.”

Mullins Mayor William McMillan said he was thrilled to have a large turnout in his town. “People throughout the Pee Dee came to hear Congressman Rice give a very progressive, positive and optimist message about our future,” McMillan said. “I’m very proud on behalf of council and the citizens of Mullins to be the host town and it speaks to our growth and also Congressman Rice’s belief in being in each and every small town and giving us all an equal chance to have a voice.”

 

WASHINGTON — House Republicans voted on Wednesday to delay core provisions of President Barack Obama's health care law, emboldened by the administration's concession that requiring companies to provide coverage for their workers next year may be too complicated.

After a day of heated rhetoric, the House voted largely along party lines, 264-161, to delay by one year the so-called employer mandate of the Affordable Care Act. It voted 251-174 to extend a similar grace period to virtually all Americans who will be required to obtain coverage beginning Jan. 1, the linchpin of the law.

Rep. Tom Rice, R-SC, said he was proud to join his fellow Republicans in passing legislation that “delays both the employer and individual mandate portions of this law, bringing us one step closer to full repeal.” Rice said the sooner Americans realize the effects of the law, the sooner the president will no longer be able to ignore calls for its full repeal.

“The president’s health care law is a train wreck, at best,” Rice said. “Already premiums have skyrocketed, employers have cut employees’ hours, and now the president has begun to unilaterally cherry-pick which parts of the law he wants to enforce. This law has single-handedly stifled our businesses’ confidence and strangled their ability to grow. No longer can American families depend on finding full-time employment; part-time employment is the new normal in America.”

The dual political-show votes marked the 38th time the GOP majority has tried to eliminate, defund or scale back the law since Republicans took control of the House in January 2011.

However, the House legislation stands no chance in the Democratic-run Senate.

The goal of the health care law is to provide coverage to nearly 50 million Americans without health insurance and lower skyrocketing costs. But in the three years since Obama signed his signature law, the public remains highly skeptical and the administration's abrupt decision earlier this month to delay the employer provision only fueled more doubts.

Republican foes welcomed it as a political gift, not only to assail Obama but to arrange votes that put House Democrats on record ahead of next year's congressional elections.

"This administration cannot make its own law work," said Rep. Dave Camp, R-Mich., chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, during House debate.

Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., said the decision was "a clear signal that even the administration doesn't believe the country is ready to sustain the painful economic impact this law will have."

Eager to counter the Republican criticism, Obama plans to deliver remarks Thursday focusing on rebates that consumers are already receiving from insurance companies under the health care law.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said Obama will draw attention to the 8.5 million consumers who have received an average consumer rebate of about $100. Carney also highlighted reports that some states are already anticipating lower premiums under the Affordable Care Act.

The House vote delaying the employer requirement codified the administration's decision, but the White House insisted it was unnecessary and issued a tough veto threat. Democrats dismissed the entire GOP effort as just another fruitless attack on a law that has been upheld by the Supreme Court.

"Well, here we go again. Another repeal vote, another political side show," said Rep. Sander Levin, D-Mich.

Morning News reporter Lindsay S. Buchanan contributed to this story.

PTR Industries, a Connecticut-based rifle manufacturer, announced today their decision to relocate manufacturing operations and a corporate headquarters to the Myrtle Beach, S.C. area. The project will consist of a capital investment of approximately $8 million plus the creation of 145 new jobs paying significantly higher wages than the County average. The company's economic impact is projected to exceed $20 million annually to the Horry County economy.

The project, locating in the 58,000 square foot Horry County spec building on Highway 319 near Aynor, S.C. will employ gunsmiths, engineers, toolmakers, and machinists who will work with state-of-the-art technology in the rifle manufacturing process. Once the County completes the spec building upfit necessary for the manufacturer to begin operations, the company will begin the hiring and training component. Potential applicants are encouraged to contact the local South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce Center for more details regarding employment opportunities.

As a firearms manufacturer, issues important to the company in their site selection process included a location with dependable labor, training facilities and superb quality of life in a state with a pro-second amendment culture. The South Carolina General Assembly recently demonstrated support via the State Senate passage of S.649, "A Senate Resolution to encourage Businesses and Firearms Manufacturers from out-of-state to locate in the Palmetto State."

Multiple parties assisted the Myrtle Beach Regional EDC with the company's location specifics including, but not limited to: Governor Haley and the South Carolina Department of Commerce, U.S. Congressman Tom Rice, South Carolina Representative Alan Clemmons and the Horry County state delegation, the Horry County Council and staff, NESA, and the North Myrtle Beach Chamber of Commerce.

Quotes from Federal, State and Local Leadership:

"PTR is very excited to begin the process and write the next chapter for our company here in South Carolina," said Josh Fiorini, President and CEO of PTR Industries. "I'd like to thank and commend the leadership of South Carolina and Horry County who have demonstrated their commitment to jobs and industry for the area and the taxpayers. We look forward to doing business here and joining the rising tide of the Myrtle Beach area economy."

"PTR Industries decision to relocate their corporate headquarters to Horry County and invest more than $8 million in our district, is a direct result of Horry County's aggressive economic recruiting efforts," said Congressman Tom Rice. "It is easy to see why a company like PTR Industries would want to relocate to Horry County, South Carolina. Our state has a skilled workforce, competitive wages, and a great quality of life -- not to mention, a history of honoring individuals' constitutional rights. On behalf of the 7th District, it is my honor to welcome PTR Industries and thank them for creating nearly 150 high wage jobs and investing millions in our local economy."

"PTR Industries is a perfect fit for Horry County," stated Horry County Council Chairman Mark Lazarus. "By diversifying our economy with high quality manufacturing companies, it will help our citizens land better paying jobs and provide a stable future for their families. "

"Today's announcement will hopefully send a signal to the rest of the country that South Carolina and the Myrtle Beach region is pro-business and eager to welcome new manufacturing jobs. 145 new, high paying jobs will mean a lot to our continued efforts to diversify and grow an already vibrant Myrtle Beach area economy," said MBREDC President & CEO, Brad Lofton.

South Carolina State Representative Alan Clemmons commented, "On the first day that Josh Fiorini announced his intention to leave Connecticut to relocate his company, PTR Industries, to a state that values its citizen's Constitutional Second Amendment rights, we initiated contact with him. Bringing PTR to Horry County has been a team effort between Governor Haley's office, the South Carolina Department of Commerce, Horry County Council, the Myrtle Beach Regional Economic Development Corporation, Congressman Tom Rice, Senator Lindsey Graham, the South Carolina General Assembly and my own staff. Our team is grateful that PTR has chosen South Carolina over the many other states that approached them, including a full-court press by Texas, as home to its corporate headquarters and its production facilities. While we are grateful, we are not surprised, because South Carolina's business-friendly regulatory environment, low taxes, motivated workforce, technical training facilities and staff, combined with the beauty of Horry County, make for a corporate environment that can't be beat -- not even in Texas!"

Despite well-publicized efforts to recruit the company from Texas Governor Rick Perry and 40 additional states, Horry County was selected for the location of the project. In the following quarter, the MBREDC will host a ceremonial ribbon cutting onsite.