A state Senate panel met in Columbia yesterday to consider changing the structure of the state Department of Health and Environmental Control. The Medical Affairs subcommittee looked at a bill by Senators John Courson And Phil Leventis to make the DHEC director a cabinet-level position. Greenville’s Danny Verdin, the committee chair is in agreement, but the rest of the committee does not seem to be.
“Of the five member subcommittee there was not compelling sentiment within the committee to move forward immediately with cabinet-level restructuring and it’s probably safe to say that short of the full committee there might not be sentiment, and even there I’m not sure,” Verdin said.
Although the director may not become a cabinet-level position, Verdin says reform of DHEC is going to happen.
“I have a particular keen interest, and I believe the rest of the membership as well, in enhanced accountability and an enhanced responsibility of the board, especially if we don’t go in the direction of a cabinet level agency,” he said.
The Medical Affairs subcommittee meets again in two weeks to, as Verdin says, roll up their sleeves to work on restructuring agencies that deal with behavioral health and the department of Disabilities and Special Needs.
The committee is taking testimony from citizens, who can voice their opinion online.
“There is a link off of the South Carolina Senate website. I believe if you just punch in citizen interest it will take you right to it. The Medical Affairs Committee comment page as well as the agenda and the items of the agenda and the posting of the format going forward is also on there.”
Verdin says they subcommittee is meeting now so that they have a solid restructuring plan when the legislature convenes in January. He says he is concerned about losing valuable time with mandatory furloughs taking place during this second year of the two-year session.