February 17, 2009
It has been a few weeks since my last letter to you on the budget situation, and there is no better place to begin than with what MUSC employees have done to support their co-workers. As reported in The Catalyst, the Employee Furlough Relief Fund has exceeded our expectations, with more than $175,000 raised during the one-month campaign. The gifts from nearly 200 donors across campus and beyond will allow us to completely offset the loss of pay to all furloughed university employees making less than $30,000 per year, with partial reimbursement to those making between $30,000 and $40,000. These payments will come automatically to the affected employees in April, and once again, we express our grateful appreciation to all who have made this possible.
No doubt you have read a great deal during the past few weeks about the federal economic stimulus bill. This is a complicated piece of legislation and you may be wondering how it will affect the Medical University. The simple answer is that it will be helpful to us in many ways. Regarding our patient care in the medical center, the state of South Carolina will receive an additional $860 million in Medicaid match money from the federal government, helping to offset state cuts. Since MUSC is the largest provider of Medicaid services in the state, these additional funds, continuing for two years, are critical to us. We will also benefit from a small increase in the so-called disproportionate share payments that we receive for the care of uninsured patients. In addition, funding will be provided to help defray our costs in providing electronic medical records in both the inpatient and outpatient settings.
The federal stimulus bill also will have benefits on the university side. During the next three years, a minimum of $568 million will be available to support K-12 and higher education in South Carolina. The state legislature will determine how these funds will be used. In addition, there is another $126 million that our elected officials can use to support education, as well as other infrastructure needs within the state.
In addition to the health care and education support described above, the federal stimulus bill will have a major impact on research funding. The budget for the National Institutes of Health, the major funding agency for MUSC research, was increased by $10 billion. We anticipate that most of this money will be awarded in supplements to existing peer-reviewed grants, as well as to new competitive proposals. In addition, there will be money to support the costs of renovating research space. Significant budget increases also will occur for the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and the National Science Foundation. Investigators across campus and our Office of Research Development are working hard to assure that MUSC competes successfully for these new funds.
The federal stimulus bill certainly is not the answer to all of our challenges. Nevertheless, it provides opportunities for us to help position the university for a stronger future. We will need to continue the process of searching for efficiencies in the ways that we operate, and as always, our talented faculty and staff will lead the way. Thanks for all that you do for the Medical University and the people of South Carolina.
Raymond S. Greenberg, MD, PhD, President