Recent editorials from South Carolina newspapers:
The Post and Courier of Charleston on North Korea's rising menace:
Eight months ago, North Korea conducted another in a series of failed missile launches. That familiar flop provided welcome comic relief from the ominous endurance — and belligerence — of a Stalinist dynasty, which has been threatening its neighbors and starving its own people for more than half a century.
Five months ago, dancers in Disney costumes (without that company's approval, of course) entertained Kim Jong Un, who became North Korea's dictator after his "Fearless Leader" dad Kim Jong Il died late last year. That bizarre spectacle also was funny in a twisted way.
But last week, North Korea's successful launch of a long-range rocket was no laughing matter. Simply put, it appears the rogue nation's missile program is no longer a Mickey Mouse operation.
North Korean officials insist that the purpose of the launch was peaceful — to put a satellite in orbit. Yet missile experts correctly point out that the technology for that task matches the technology for launching long-range armed missiles. ...
Denny Roy, a senior fellow at the East-West Center in Honolulu, did offer this reassurance in comments to Reuters ...
And as Professor Andrei Lankov, a Korean studies specialist at South Korea's Kookmin University, put it in Wednesday's Los Angeles Times: "The North Koreans will continue to develop their missile and nuclear technology and, eventually, whether it takes 10 years or 20, they will have a reliable ICBM with nuclear warheads."
ICBM stands for intercontinental ballistic missile — as in a missile that could menace not just South Korea and Japan but America's West Coast.
U.S. National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor aptly condemned the launch as "a highly provocative act," adding. ...
Clearly, the U.S. must keep trying to form a more united front against this ascending menace, even as it works to curb the nuclear ambitions of a bellicose Iran.
Meanwhile, North Korea is all too relentlessly shifting from occasionally amusing to increasingly alarming.
The Times and Democrat of Orangeburg on Medicaid vital to state's most vulnerable:
South Carolina lawmakers have a monumental decision to make in early 2013, one that will impact the health and the economy of the state and its citizens for years to come.
Gov. Nikki Haley is opposed to Medicaid expansion, called for in President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act for people who earn up to 138 percent of the poverty level. The law also requires Americans to buy health insurance or pay a penalty. Under Obamacare, the federal government will pay for Medicaid expansion through 2016, then pick up 95 percent of the cost through 2019 and 90 percent thereafter.
The new health care law, however, allows states to opt out of the Medicaid expansion, and that's exactly what Haley and her Medicaid Director Tony Keck want to do, saying South Carolina can't afford to pay for the match.
Keck says the money would be better spent finding ways to help people stay healthy and reducing health care costs rather than expanding Medicaid coverage. ...
Advocates of Medicaid expansion in South Carolina — 22 groups including the AARP, the League of Women Voters, the American Heart Association, the March of Dimes, the NAACP, the Primary Health Care Association and the United Way Association — note that more than 329,000 South Carolinians earn less than $15,000 a year and don't have health insurance. They say Medicaid expansion would cover more working adults and families, arguing that if expansion isn't accepted, the costs would fall on the state's hospitals or other health care providers, and threaten hospitals with closure.
Tom Dandridge, Regional Medical Center CEO, agrees. ...
But Phil Noble, a Charleston businessman and president of the S.C. New Democrats, insists the argument that the state cannot afford the small additional funding to pay for Medicaid expansion doesn't hold water. ...
We reiterate the position that South Carolina cannot afford to turn down the expanded Medicaid coverage and stand by as other states spend that federal money — our own tax dollars — to provide health care to their most vulnerable citizens while hundreds of thousands in the Palmetto State go without the medical coverage and access to medical care they desperately need.
The Island Packet of Hilton Head on state's Office on Aging:
For most of his 30-plus years in the South Carolina legislature, whenever Glenn McConnell spoke, people listened.
The longtime Senate president pro tempore now uses that voice to advocate for the elderly.
And people need to listen.
McConnell became lieutenant governor in March after Ken Ard resigned and pleaded guilty to campaign fraud. McConnell now has only a ceremonial role in the Senate. But his new position comes with one important function: leadership of the state's Office on Aging. To his credit, rather than bide time in a job he took not by choice but by constitutional mandate, McConnell is becoming a champion of the elderly.
He sees a train wreck coming if the state doesn't do more to prepare for a booming elderly population.
He has launched what he calls the Face of Aging Tour, holding forums throughout the state to hear about problems and drum up support for an office he once knew only as one line in a 900-page state budget.
In an appearance recently at the Technical College of the Lowcountry in Beaufort, McConnell said, "The face of aging is a reality and a coming calamity if we don't do something now."
The number of South Carolinians age 60 and older is expected to double in the next 20 years — from 912,000 to 1.8 million.
Both the Legislature and communities will have to do more to enable the elderly to stay in their homes as long as possible, avoiding the Medicaid nursing home care that costs taxpayers $52,000 per year, per patient.
The legislature needs to allocate $5 million more to the Office on Aging's home- and community-based services program, McConnell said. That would eliminate a waiting list of more than 8,000 home-bound seniors who need someone to deliver meals, take them to doctor visits, help with home repairs or install wheelchair ramps.
This is not only the humane thing to do, it is fiscally sound. Yet, the state budget for aging services has been cut by 48 percent in the past three years. ...
State and county governments cannot cover the demand today, or the coming avalanche. ...
That's why McConnell said his tour is to energize communities, churches and nonprofit organizations to help the elderly stay out of institutional care. ...