MUSC receives $12.4 million for telemedicine program
Dawn Brazell | Public Relations | August 2, 2013
|"Telemedicine is a proven technology-based tool that saves dollars in the health care system and most importantly saves more patient lives. Legislators have put faith in MUSC to lead the way and partner with rural hospitals to bring specialized care to South Carolina's rural communities," Mark Sweatman said.|
Anyone wondering about the importance of telemedicine need only look to the $12.4 million state appropriation to the Medical University of South Carolina for the Medical University Hospital Authority to expand its telemedicine program.
Mark Sweatman, MUSC legislative liaison, said all of the funding was passed in the 2013-14 State General Appropriation Bill, House Bill 3710 with MUSC receiving the monies on or around September 1.
"We are pleased and proud that our state legislators and top health policy leaders have recognized MUSC's cutting edge telemedicine programs as an important investment and a key to improved health care in rural areas across our state," Sweatman said.
The breakdown of this funding is as follows:
- $4 million from the State General Fund (these are recurring dollars)
- $4 million from Tobacco Master Settlement dollars (non-recurring)
- $400,000 for Rural Hospital Transformation from Tobacco Master Settlement dollars (non-recurring)
- $4 million from carry-forward funds from the S.C. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) (non-recurring)
Sweatman said the Tobacco Master Settlement provides funds received by the states as part of the tobacco companies’ lawsuit settlement from more than a decade ago. This year's portion of the settlement allocated $157 million to South Carolina and the General Assembly authorized it to be spent in this 2013-14 state budget. Also, the $400,000 for Rural Hospital Transformation is intended for MUSC to work with all the rural hospitals, DHHS and others to implement new services and expand our existing telemedicine services in these rural areas.
In addition to all of these dollars, another part of the state appropriations bill allows MUSC to bring obstetric care to these rural areas through MUSC doctors and telemedicine through a partnership with rural hospitals. “We are in the process of contracting with DHHS for these services now. As you know, many of the rural counties do not even have an OB doctor who lives in the county – a situation that’s unreal and needs to be changed.”
Sweatman said this funding level shows the commitment of the General Assembly to serving the medical needs of rural areas in the state.
"Telemedicine is a proven technology-based tool that saves dollars in the health care system and most importantly saves more patient lives. Legislators have put faith in MUSC to lead the way and partner with rural hospitals to bring specialized care to South Carolina's rural communities."