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S.C. Hospitals Create Initiant Healthcare Collaborative to Reduce Costs

In Uncategorized on April 12, 2014 by lakelandsmemories

The boards of five of South Carolina’s largest health systems have approved the formation of a healthcare collaborative to drive down healthcare costs.

ImageThe founding members of Initiant Healthcare Collaborative include: Self Regional Healthcare, (Greenwood); Greenville Health System (Greenville); McLeod Health (Florence); MUSC Health (Charleston); and Palmetto Health (Columbia).

CEOs of these leading healthcare systems wanted to find ways to create synergies among the organizations while remaining independent. Legislation and payment reform introduced in the Affordable Care Act have created an environment that begins to compensate hospitals and physicians for the value of the services provided rather than solely on the traditional fee-for-service model. This shift has accelerated efforts to reduce costs; explore new ways to optimize access to health services; and to enhance health and wellness in the communities we serve.

“When health systems collaborate in areas that save patients and businesses money, and continue to improve and focus on areas of safety and quality, everyone benefits,” said Jim Pfeiffer, President and CEO of Self Regional Healthcare.
Several hospital systems around the country have created similar collaboratives, including BJC in Missouri, Stratus in Georgia, and the Iowa Healthcare Consortium in Des Moines.
Initiant Health Collaborative is a limited liability company owned by the founding members. Other hospitals can be added to the collaborative over time. These health systems can work together for common goals, yet remain independent, and will continue to serve patients in their respective communities. Working together allows for economies of scale in areas including the following:
— Purchasing of equipment, supplies, and services — Sharing health system administrative and clinical support functions — Accessing critical competencies not currently available or affordable to a single member

“This collaboration will provide the scope and scale to make a significant positive impact on healthcare across the state, while allowing each hospital to maintain autonomy and service in their local communities,” Pfeiffer said.

 

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Self Regional Healthcare Foundation Women’s Health Classic Announces Charitable Recipients

In Uncategorized on April 4, 2014 by lakelandsmemories

Organizers of the state’s only LPGA qualifying tournament are announcing the charitable recipients of the fundraising event to support women’s health and other community initiatives to benefit women and families in the Lakelands region of South Carolina.

Charitable funds are expected to total $200,000, making the Self Regional Healthcare Women’s Health Classic the largest charitable contribution of all of the 20 Symetra – Road to the LPGA tournaments in the U.S.

The primary beneficiary of the tournament is the Self Regional Healthcare Foundation, which will use funds to support Self Regional Healthcare’s services for women and outreach programs for women in the community. Chip Stockman, chairman of the Self Regional Foundation board, said, “These funds will help the women in our area improve their health, and we know that most women serve as the healthcare managers for their families. That benefits everyone.”

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Symetra Tour players Stefanie Kenoyer (left) and JayeMarie Green (right) visit with local students (from left) Shamiya Moraieune, Katie Kellum, Summer Karle, Jennings Brasier, Dru Strickland, Clary Pederson and Collins Strickland featuring the Self Regional Health Express. The Self Regional Healthcare Foundation Women’s Health Classic will benefit women’s health initiatives in the Lakelands, including support for the Health Express, which offers health outreach, including screenings and education.

In addition to Self Regional, Piedmont Technical College Foundation, which serves students in all seven Lakelands counties, will receive major funding from the tournament designated for women’s scholarships.

Local non-profit The Greenwood County Community Foundation (GCCF) will allocate the charitable funds generated by the tournament.

President and CEO of GCCF Mark Kasper, said, “We are honored to receive the tournament’s charitable distributions for the Lakelands.  In addition to the two tournament beneficiaries and an endowment to the GCCF for women’s causes, we have diligently selected eight organizations which serve the needs of women and families from surrounding counties to receive a portion of the proceeds.” More on the upcoming Symetra Tour event: http://www.stoneypointclassic.com/

Additional recipients of tournament proceeds include the following organizations in the counties noted:

Multi-county service area:

MEG’s Househttp://megshouse.org/ provides safe emergency shelter and supportive services for victims of domestic violence, including emergency shelter, assistance with relocation and transitional housing, information and referrals, court advocacy, support groups, and educational services. MEG’s House serves McCormick, Edgefield, and Greenwood counties.

Greenwood County:

A Place for Us Ministries http://aplaceforus.com/exists to minister to the physical, spiritual, and emotional needs of birthmothers and fathers facing crisis pregnancies. The organization provides physical care in the form of a home for birthmothers and practical training related to homemaking and parenthood.

Beyond Abusehttp://beyondabuse.info/ leads the community beyond sexual violence and child abuse through awareness, advocacy, and action. The organization helps prevent sexual violence and child abuse by building awareness about the social and personal costs, risks and effects of interpersonal violence.

Edgefield County:

Women In Unityhttp://www.womeninunity.org/creates positive change in the lives of disadvantaged children and families in the Edgefield area to significantly improve success in school, in the workplace and in homes.

Laurens County:

SAFE HOME http://thesafehome.org/provides 24-hour services for victims of domestic violence. Their mission is to provide a safe place for battered women to find comfort, peace, acceptance, and support while they are rebuilding shattered lives.

McCormick County:

McCormick Children’s Home, Inc., provides emergency residential care for abused, neglected, or abandoned children. Children may range from birth to seventeen years of age.

Newberry County:

Sexual Trauma Services of the Midlands http://www.stsm.org/provides crisis intervention, advocacy, and support services to female and male child, adolescent, and adult survivors of sexual assault and abuse.

Saluda County:

MK Inc., http://www.mamakidsinc.com/provides service to communities through community development initiatives such as after school programs, parent literacy, economic empowerment, teen pregnancy prevention, and character development.

Statuses

In Uncategorized on March 27, 2014 by lakelandsmemories

NGA_& Masters_Preview_2014 (abridged edition)

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Brothers’ Cup 2014 about Golf, Fellowship & Charity

In Uncategorized on March 26, 2014 by lakelandsmemories

Brothers’ Cup 2014 welcomed 32 men over five days for golf competition, fellowship and fund-raising. 

ImageMen from Illinois, Alabama, North Carolina and South Carolina joined this year’s competition in Savannah Lakes Village on the shores of Lake Thurmond. The event featured NGA Tour Pro Justin Regier. Participants competed in a 54-hole round Ryder Cup-style format. Justin also provided contestants with a Par 3 “beat the pro” competition, and joined the men on the range for some pre-round swing tips.

The event raised nearly $2,000 for the designated charity, Food For Friends, and also made a contribution to local golf course beautification efforts.  

The theme of the 2014 event was “The One Thing.” Men competing in the event were asked to think of one thing in their life that they would like to see changed. During the closing dinner, several competitors shared meaningful dialogue with the group regarding their “one thing.”

Planning is already underway for Brothers’ Cup 2015 and the interim reunion/introduction event.  

Brothers’ Cup is continually seeking to grow and is open to all men that might be interested in joining. See Brothers-Cup.com for event details, periodic updates, and contact information for any questions you might have about getting involved.

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A Golf Lesson Learned: Even the Worst Has Something to Offer

In Uncategorized on March 25, 2014 by lakelandsmemories

Besides a few hacks at the Par 3 West in Greenwood, I haven’t taken any real golf swings since lumbar spinal fusion in 2009 and then meniscus surgery in 2012. Excuse 1: Can you imagine what back and knee surgery do to a golf swing? Anyway, I’ll have more excuses later.

Plus, I spent Monday at home sick. Excuse 2.

So, I didn’t think I’d be playing in this year’s Media Day Golf Tournament, sponsored by Savannah Lakes Village, in association with the upcoming NGA Tour event here in the village.

duffer

But, late Monday night, I asked my wife, Shea, to check my golf bag for balls. Yep. They were there. Tees. Yep. Markers. Yep. All clubs. Yep. Darn!

Then it was raining when I left Greenwood Tuesday morning. He-he. (Excuse 3?) I wouldn’t have to go out and show off my rusty swing, after all. Thank goodness.

But wait …

As I crossed over from Greenwood County into McCormick County, the skies parted and the rain stopped. What? You have to be kidding me?

I stopped on the side of the road and emailed SLV Classic communications contact Phil Kinzer. “Is the course playable?” I asked, hoping for an answer that would keep me off the course – which, for SLV residents, likely meant fewer divots. (Excuse 4?)

Phil: “It’s playable. Cart paths only.” Ah. Denied again. You mean I really have to go through with this? (Not that playing such an awesome course as Monticello is bad; but ME playing such an awesome course as Monticello IS bad). Then I remembered the one thing I forgot to ask my wife: “Did you check for my golf shoes?”

Was this my “out clause?” (Excuse 5). I rolled into the Monticello Course ready to cover the media event and then skip the golf, but then I had second thoughts. You see, my conscience got the better of me. Kathy Godby, who writes the golf committee article each month for Shorelines Magazine, had just penned an article for the upcoming April 1 issue about the golf shoes in the golf shop.

Well, guess what I did? Yep. Bought me a shiny new pair of FootJoys. I had no more excuses to keep me off the course. And, well, the golf shoes were very nice.

I was teamed with villagers Paul Aube and AJ Piwowarski (thank goodness, because I thought it would be all media. You see, those who can’t play golf … well, we write about golf). Andrew Macke, a sportswriter with The Index-Journal, where I worked for 10 years (1996-2006), was also on our team. I thought, “Well, at least another hacker will be with me.” Yeah, right. The guy who “just started playing” was way better than me. Things were looking bad. I was going to be the fourth wheel. You know, the guy out there smacking around balls for no good reason.

I made my typical on-course excuses: The ground is wet (I can’t hit fairway shots when the ground is wet), I haven’t played in forever, I’m just a duffer, yadda, yadda.

Too bad there wasn’t a gallery. When I played in a club tournament in Greenwood in the late-1990s (when I used to play daily), I coughed up the “I don’t play well with people watching” excuse. Funny thing? My first three tee shots with a driver went out of bounds, each by less than a foot, and some guy about 10 carts back yelled, “Hey, buddy, just pull out a 4-iron and punch it up the middle.” How embarrassing. I made a 12 on the par-5 first hole – the easiest hole on the course. I birdied the par-3 second. Go figure.

Yes, golf is a game of fun, no matter how good or bad you play; however, my uncle played in the U.S. and Senior Opens, and he tried to teach me the game, so I feel pretty bad that I’m 44 years old and couldn’t shoot a 44 on one side on my best day.

It’s golf, though. Paul reminded me to think about the positive and forget the negative. He had an acronym for it, but I can’t remember it right now. The idea wasn’t lost on me, though. What can I do to help this team? C’mon, something? Anything!

Paul and AJ clearly play well. I’d expect nothing less from those who live here. Andrew was a surprise. He used to be a hockey player, and, as I was informed by NGA player Justin Reiger just a few days ago, hockey players make great golfers. Justin was a hockey player until he switched to golf at age 16. Andrew clearly has a future on the less-than-duffer side of golf with his pretty swing.

At least I knew where I stood. In this scramble, I’d be the one whose ball would get picked up every time over the 9-hole event. You kind of have to accept your role.

Or maybe not.

AJ’s long drives put us in great position on just about every hole. When he didn’t, either Paul’s or Andrew’s shots did. Then my little miracle happened: I started making putts. Three birdie putts, to be exact. I felt like I was actually making a contribution to my team.

I have to give Andrew a lot of credit. He putted each time before me, and I watched his line and speed like a hawk. Andrew would miss by a hair. I would make minor adjustments and, well, I’d sink the ball in the hole. Teamwork!

greg

I got high-fives, and a few compliments that I REALLY needed. Still, I had not once hit a tee or fairway shot that was the best ball. That was until the highest-rated hole on the course. AJ nailed a brilliant tee shot in a good landing within 100 or so yards of the hole. AJ told me to go long, hit the bank, and let it role down to the hole on the second shot over the water. Guess what? I did it. I had the best ball on that shot, and went on to make the birdie putt. For one hole, I felt like I was just a tad bit more than the “putting dude.”

That’s how golf is: You can go from feeling really bad about the game to feeling pretty darn good about it. That’s why even the worst of us can have a good time.

We ended up finishing second (by one stroke).

Phil jokingly (I think) tossed away several of the scorecards – including ours – because no one signed the scorecards. C’mon, Phil, we know the rules. It’s Media Day. What can you expect, my friend? The media are used to bylines on stories, not signing scorecards. Well, if he wasn’t serious, we finished second. I’m making myself believe he wasn’t serious.

What I thought would be a stressful, embarrassing and soggy day on the golf course turned out to be one of new friendships and plenty of good feelings. I was grateful to be teamed with these fellas, and I learned a lot about how even the worst golfer in a Scramble foursome can make some decent contributions.

Besides Paul and AJ asking me if I wanted a coat every five minutes – I guess they are now part of the masses who know you’ll never see me in a coat – things went about as well as I could have expected. Just kidding, Paul and AJ. I appreciate the coat offer, but I was sweating by the second hole. I’d play in my underwear, but, according to golf committee rules, that’s not proper attire. I guess I can understand that.

Now, we won’t talk about all those fat fairway shots I had that went 20 yards. Let’s just say AJ had to keep the sand container handy to fill in my Grand Canyon-sized divots. Don’t worry. The groundhog from Caddyshack did not pay a visit to Monticello this morning.

Thanks to Savannah Lakes Village for a great time. Sorry, August Luedecke, that I couldn’t accept the on-course beer refreshments, but I had to come back to work. I don’t think the Shorelines’ owners would have appreciated me being tipsy while working.

Maybe I should have taken up that offer to play nine more holes. Hmm.

One thing I will say: It’s a great thing to work where “work” often involves playing golf. Maybe SLV should have a few more Media Days, just for the heckuva it. Maybe my game would improve.

Good luck to all involved in the upcoming tournament. As always, SLV does everything first class.

 

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Savannah Lakes ‘Like Second Home’ to NGA Tour

In Uncategorized on March 25, 2014 by lakelandsmemories Tagged: , , ,

The vice president of operations for the NGA Tour calls Savannah Lakes Village “like a second home.”

“It’s like the NGA of the West,” said Waters, whose pro golf development tour is headquartered in Myrtle Beach. “It would be great if we could play all 18 events (on the tour) here.”

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Ryan Waters

Waters and the local SLV Classic golf committee are preparing for this year’s SLV event, which is April 29-May 4. Tournament play is May 1-4 at the Monticello Golf Course.

“Monticello and Savannah Lakes are always dear to me,” said Waters, who played in a Pro-Am with his brother here in SLV 12 years ago. Waters has been with the tour since 2002 and has been VP of operations and NGA media director since 2012.

Tuesday was media day, where NGA officials and local tournament committee members staged an official event to announce the 12th annual tournament.

 

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Phil Kinzer

Phil Kinzer, who handles SLV Classic communications, says the fans are who make this tournament special. “It’s a great venue for aspiring golfers, and it helps us showcase an area we are all proud of.”

Kirk Smith, CEO and general manager of SLV, thanked committee members for their current and past successes with the tournament. He reminded everyone in attendance that NGA members consider this event the “Masters of the NGA Tour.” NGA Tour players consistently vote the SLV Classic as their favorite stop on the tour.

“This is not just a golf tournament,” Smith said. “It’s a community event.”

Smith announced that the tournament would be giving back to the community through a couple of projects. One includes signage and a landscape project at U.S. 378 and S.C. 7 (near The Village Store). The second phase includes a landscaping plan that will include signage that says “Home of the SLV Classic.”

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Kirk Smith

Smith also showed a 30-second commercial about the tournament that will appear on the SLV website and on News Channel 12.

NGA Tournament Director Terry Johnson has played in PGA Tournament events, has been a golf director, a club pro for 18 years and has seen many sides of the golf business.

“It’s a pleasure to be back in Savannah Lakes,” Johnson said. “Every time I come here I feel part of the family.” He said everything here just “clicks.”

He thanked the first responders, the sponsors and the community. “The way ya’ll get behind this event is amazing,” Johnson said.

 

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Terry Johnson

 

August Luedecke in his final year as tournament chairman. He said he’s so proud how the community rallies around this event. “More people pull together than any time during the year.”

August said it’s been a labor of love for him, and that he’s never seen such hard-working people.

Floyd Thomas will assume the role as tournament director next year.

The NGA Tour (formerly known as the Hooters Pro Golf Tour) is the No. 1 men’s professional golf developmental tour in the United States. Unlike the PGA Tour and Web.com Tour, for which funds are provided by sponsors, the bulk of the NGA prize money is paid out of player entry fees. This year, player practice rounds are Monday, April 28 – Wednesday, April 30. There’s also a Junior Clinic on the 28th for local students, and a fishing contest for NGA Players. On the 29th, there’s a qualifier event, shootout and volunteer dinner. On the 30th, there’s a putting contest and Pro-Am.

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August Luedecke

Tournament play begins each day (May 1-4) at 7:30 a.m.

Former NGA Tour players who have gone on to win major championships at golf’s highest level include: Bubba Watson (Masters), Keegan Bradley (PGA Championship), Stewart Cink (British Open), Lucas Glover (U.S. Open), Ben Curtis (British Open), John Daly (PGA, British Open), Jim Furyk (U.S. Open), Lee Janzen (two U.S. Opens), Tom Lehman (British Open), Shaun Micheel (PGA), David Toms (PGA), and Zach Johnson (Masters).

Twenty-one other NGA Tour alums have won at least one event on the PGA Tour.

http://www.NGATour.com for more information on the tour.

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Local Hospital Named ‘Fit-Friendly Worksite’

In Uncategorized on March 21, 2014 by lakelandsmemories

Savannah Lakes Village residents have one more reason to feel good about the national award-winning healthcare available to them through Self Regional Medical Center. The employees who work there have been honored nationally for their personal commitment to wellness.

Hospitals that stress a wellness-focused workplace environment tend to foster workers who extend that wellness commitment to their patients.

ImageThe American Heart Association has named Self Regional one of its 2014 Gold ‘Fit-Friendly Worksites.’ For the recognition, the American Heart Association said it recognizes employers who go “above and beyond when it comes to their employees’ health” and specifically looks for employers who provide walking programs, walking routes and offer healthy choices in their dining options.

This is the first time Self Regional has been recognized by the American Heart Association as a Fit-Friendly Worksite. In January 2013, the health system launched a pedometer-based walking program for its employees to encourage additional walking and physical activity. For employees (who the hospital calls “team members”) who achieve an average of 6,000 or more steps per day, they earn an incentive of $25 per quarter in their flexible spending accounts.

Since the program was launched, more than 1,700 team members have signed up to participate in the program, and team members average more than 6,600 steps per day. Self Regional also mapped an exterior, one-mile walking track around the campus of Self Regional Medical Center to encourage team members to take walks during breaks.

The cafes and restaurants at Self Regional offer nutritional information and a “Self Select” menu option that features healthy food alternatives at a discounted rate.

“Being named a Fit-Friendly Worksite reinforces our commitment to our team members’ health,” said Jim Pfeiffer, President and CEO of Self Regional Healthcare. “Our walking program has encouraged many of us to increase our activity levels, and walk more each day.”

Self Regional Healthcare is a not-for-profit, regional referral hospital that provides care to residents of Greenwood, Abbeville, Laurens, Saluda, McCormick, Edgefield and Newberry counties. Services include prevention and wellness, acute care and tertiary care services including cancer care, neurosurgery, heart and vascular surgery, NICU and orthopedics. Self Medical Group is its employed physician affiliate network of 20 practices and more than 60 physicians.

The hospital is a multiple-time Gallup Great Workplace award winner, and has been consistently honored for patient care, its neurosurgery (spine care) program, vascular care, orthopedics, stroke care, cancer treatment and other services.

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Celtic Nights ‘One You Do not Want to Miss’

In Uncategorized on March 17, 2014 by lakelandsmemories

Greenwood-Lander Performing Arts concludes its 67th season on Friday, March 28, with an appearance by Celtic Nights.

ImageDubbed “The Emigrants’ Bridge: A Night of Music, Song and Dance,” the show, which starts at 7:30 p.m. in the Josephine B. Abney Cultural Center Auditorium, features beautiful ballads and striking choreography. It tells the story of the Irish people’s hopes and dreams, and struggle to find their place in the world.

Tickets are $35 for adults and $30 for children. They can be ordered by going to the GLPA website at GreenwoodLanderPerformingArts.com or by calling the GLPA office at (864) 388-8326.

Celtic Nights has been widely acclaimed for the artistry of its performances. Irish prime minister Enda Kenny said that the troupe has “brought our distinctive and evolving music and dance tradition to the world stage and showcased our tradition in spectacular fashion.”

The upcoming show will mark not only the last date of GLPA’s season – with the exception of a rescheduled and sold-out performance by singer Sandi Patty on Friday, April 4 – but also the last date of Celtic Nights’ American tour, and GLPA executive director Cecily Ferguson said that tickets have been purchased by fans from as far away as Florida and Texas.

“We haven’t had a music and dance production of this magnitude since Ballroom with a Twist or The Moscow Ballet,” she said. “This is one you do not want to miss.” 

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U.S. Sen. Graham Tackles ObamaCare, Russia, Benghazi, Social Security and other Topics during Visit to Savannah Lakes Village

In Uncategorized on March 7, 2014 by lakelandsmemories

By Greg K. Deal
Shorelines Magazine Editor & Publisher

U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) stopped in Savannah Lakes Village on Friday to speak about a variety of national and state issues ahead of the 2014 congressional election season.

Graham, who spent the day visiting several areas in the Blueway and Lakelands regions, met a crowd of constituents at the Red Barn in McCormick’s Hickory Knob State Resort Park. He talked about healthcare, Social Security and Medicaid, recent and recurring foreign affairs – including the ongoing crisis in the Ukraine – the military, education, and he addressed a question on Republican Party infighting.

ImageGraham is expected to face a primary challenge this summer, and, if he’s successful, will square off against the Democratic challenger in November’s general election. If he loses in the primaries, Graham said he will support the party’s nominee. Some in the Tea Party have threatened to mount an attack to unseat the once-highly popular senator, who some on the far right of the GOP call a RINO (Republican in Name Only) because he’s worked across the party aisle with Democrats on some volatile issues that have several times nearly brought the government to a deadlocked standstill. Graham said he’s ready for any challenge.

“I’m not going to hate my opponent,” he said, adding that the party is stronger when it unifies under a broader tent. He said members of the Tea Party, traditional “Reagan Republicans” and Libertarians must come together to take back control of the Senate from Democrats.

He also said the party must do more to reach out to African-American voters, noting that if you go to an African-American church that you will hear the same conservative values the GOP supports preached from the pulpit and discussed among members of the congregation. He said Republicans are only out of touch with the minority communities because of poor party branding (marketing identity) – that they share the same principles and values. In a state that is 33 percent African-American, Graham said education here in the state is critical. He said some schools in South Carolina look “third world,” and that we must bring 21st-century education to all children, not just to those who live in the places with the highest tax bases.

In challenging the often-discussed topic of whether the senior senator is conservative enough, Graham said, “You don’t have to become socially or economically liberal to grow the party.” He said legislators should stand firm behind their core convictions, but also be prepared to work across the aisle to make a real difference in the country. He noted how Republican President Ronald Reagan worked in the 1980s with Democratic House Speaker Tip O’Neill on Social Security reform and other measures. He talked about his own workings with the “Gang of 14” to try to find common ground on judicial nominees, ending filibusters and a threat of the so-called “nuclear option” that would bypass filibusters.

Graham said he, too, wants to see more conservative judges; but he said he doesn’t want to bend laws or congressional rules to make it happen. He said the best way to get more conservative judges and Supreme Court justices is by making sure the party has a president in the White House to make the appointments and a Senate that will approve them.

When there are differences, Graham said, “Republicans and Democrats must get in a room and figure it out.”

“I’m willing to be that Republican,” Graham said, making his pitch for re-nomination for another term as senator. “I’m a proud conservative, but Republicans cannot do it by themselves.”

He said the last time one party – the Democrats – tried to figure out something on their own, the result was the Affordable Care Act (aka ObamaCare).

“ObamaCare is not working,” he said, adding that the economy is suffering because companies scale back employee hours to part time to avoid the healthcare mandate. He said this country can’t grow business by incentivizing employers to cut hours. The system also forces people not to want to cross a certain earnings threshold to avoid losing subsidies, he said.

“If you make more money, you lose money,” he said.

The senator offered several ideas for reforming healthcare in a bipartisan fashion. For instance, he said those who participate in unhealthy behavior – such as smoking – should pay more, while those who use health savings and engage in wellness behaviors should pay less. Being able to purchase healthcare insurance across state lines will create competition, he said, adding that we also need serious malpractice reform in America.

“There are so many things that we can do that are bipartisan,” Graham said.

He warned that people who currently have private health insurance will eventually be pushed into the ObamaCare exchange and that we are headed toward a “European-style healthcare system.”

And there are consequences, he warned. Those consequences are never more evident than with Social Security and Medicaid, the senator stressed.

There are 80 million Baby Boomers who “will flood Social Security,” he said, noting that in 1935, when the entitlement was born, life expectancy was just 60. People are living longer, and there are today just three workers for every retiree, compared to 1955, when the ratio was 16 to 1, he said.

“We are not generating enough workers in our country,” Graham said. “We have to find a way to come up with new workers.”

Reforming immigration is one way. He noted how in 2012 the Professional Golf Association (PGA) staged at tournament at Kiawah Island, S.C., and needed about 300 workers at above minimum wage, with benefits, to work the event. Only a handful of people applied. He pointed out how certain jobs – such as chicken farming – were important to people’s livelihood years ago, but that today illegal immigrants are taking many of the jobs that others are no longer doing. He said it’s clear where the focus of immigration reform needs to be, joking that we aren’t being overrun by Canadians from the North … that they mostly come to South Carolina for the beach and golf.

He joked that Social Security was a pretty good system – for the government’s coffers – when life expectancy was 60 because most people would “die off” before receiving benefits. That’s not the case today. Benefits are being paid in bundles. He said the system was not set up to succeed as a model for the Baby Boom generation.

Graham said the government can – and should – do a better job helping people prepare for the Social Security age of their lives. How can the more prosperous in our society help? Graham noted one area – Medicaid and the prescription drug benefit – where he believes the federal government shouldn’t be subsidizing prescription drug bills for people making more than $250,000 a year.

“There’s not enough money going into the system to account for all the changes,” he said, referring to the increase in life expectancy and the influx of Boomers into the retirement age of life.

Foreign affairs have been in the news recently with the fear of Russia trying to annex Crimea in the Ukraine. Graham had very strong words for Russian leader Vladimir Putin. “He’s an anti-democratic defacto autocratic dictator,” Graham said. “He’s ripping off the Russian people, and they (the leaders) are living like kings.”

He also had strong words for President Obama, who he said must show leadership and not blink in the face of Putin’s moves or that Putin, and other leaders, specifically rogue dictators, will be emboldened by the U.S.’s failure to act in support of the Ukraine in a bold and decisive way. Graham said having this world crisis at a time when the U.S. military has been cut to some of its lowest levels magnifies the need to keep America’s defenses strong. Iran, for instance, might see the U.S.’s failure to act as more reason to pursue a nuclear weapon, he cautioned.

“Israel will never allow the Iranians to have a nuclear weapon without a Jewish fight,” he said, noting that how the U.S. administration acts at this time sets a precedent that radical Islamic regimes and terrorists will follow closely in making their next moves on the world stage.

“We have a weak president, a dysfunctional Congress and a war-weary public,” he said. That’s a recipe for disaster, according to the senator.

Graham repeated his long-held support for Israel, then he turned to questions from the audience. One was in regards to the belief that Obama is usurping the Constitution. Graham said presidential powers under Obama have been misused, and he said he supports legislation such as the “STOP (Stop This Overreaching Presidency) Bill,” which would help Congress rein in unilateral attempts to change laws from the executive branch.

“Elections matter,” Graham said, noting that people have to live with the consequences and do the best they can if they don’t work to get their preferred political party voted into federal offices.

Another audience question was about party infighting, particularly between the more conservative wing (the Tea Party) and some of the more liberal factions of the GOP. Graham called himself a “Reagan Republican,” but he said there is room under the tent for all conservatives. He said if Republicans do regain the Senate and have power in both branches of Congress, they must use the power wisely.

One thing Graham said a Republican-led Senate should do right away is take a strong look at what happened when the U.S. Diplomatic Mission in Benghazi was attacked and four people were killed on Sept. 11, 2012. He said there are many questions left unanswered, and it’s not the American way to leave someone dead on the battlefield without making an effort to do something about it. In this case, that “something” would be investigating the incident thoroughly to find out more about what was known and what was done or could have been done.

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Reception Planned for Troy Native, Actress

In Uncategorized on March 3, 2014 by lakelandsmemories

A reception for Erskine College alumna Millie Ballinger Is planned for Friday, March 7, from 2-6 p.m. in the Bowie Arts Center on the Erskine campus, where an exhibit recognizing her accomplishments will be on display. The public is invited to attend.

ImageBallinger, a native of Troy, S.C., is a member of the Erskine College Class of 1948, says she has devoted her life to her family first, then to acting and service to her community.

She is the mother of four children, Kitty, Bill, Jr., David, and John, and has performed in nearly every playhouse and theater in South Carolina, and has also appeared on television and in films. She has served as a volunteer reader for recordings for the blind; acted as an advisor for Clemson Youth, an organization sponsored by Clemson churches; and worked as co-director for “Aftercare,” a mental health program in Pickens County.

Her portrayal of the poet Emily Dickinson in William Luce’s play “The Belle of Amherst,” can now be seen online.

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