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Healthy Eaters Big Users of Health Care System

The idea that a good diet means a healthy population with lower health costs only holds true when it comes to emergency care, a study shows. Researchers say that although men and women over the age of 65 who ate healthily had shorter stays in hospital, they were strong users of other medical services.

In fact, they tended to make greater use of outpatient services, preventive care, and dental care than those who did not follow a healthy eating regime.

Emeritus Professor Mark Wahlqvist from Monash University’s Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine and the Monash Asia Institute says individuals with a higher socioeconomic status usually followed a healthier diet and took better care of their health needs, while those on lower incomes were more likely to cut back on basic needs like food and medication.

“A diverse diet can be quite costly, which can lead to food insecurity for low socioeconomic groups who cannot afford it,” Wahlqvist says.

“This may partly explain the greater expenditure on acute care that they incur.”

Economic factors play an inescapable role in the development of health policies, but the medical costs of diet-related and nutritionally related diseases were rarely given attention, Walhlqvist says.

“There is a need for health services to develop a nutrition policy for nutritionally disadvantaged groups.

“Healthy eating doesn’t mean lower overall medical costs, but does mean that what is spent represents a better health investment,” explains Walhlqvist.

The findings have important implications for nutrition-related health service policy given that most countries are facing increased medical expenditure as their population ages.


House Bill Allows Medical Exception on Marijuana Law

The S.C. House passed a bill Wednesday that would provide a narrow exception for a type of medical marijuana extract that offers hope for those with severe forms of epilepsy.

The bill, H. 4803, sponsored by Rep. Jenny Horne, R-Summerville, passed 90-24 in a chamber normally dominated by conservative measures and rhetoric. It is similar to a measure that passed the S.C. Senate with one notable exception: it allows for patients who qualify to possess cannabidiol oil (CBD), a marijuana extract that many have found helps with epilepsy and other conditions.

The Senate bill calls for clinical trials at Medical University of South Carolina and other hospitals that treat severe forms of epilepsy. But state police had raised concerns with any broader measures.

Horne said that even though state law enforcement objects, CBD oil offers hope to those who need the medicine. "It can be a miracle drug," she said.

Jill Swing, the mother of 6-year-old Mary Louise Swing, who has severe epilepsy, said the House bill has the potential to help her daughter. But she worries that if her daughter were one of the lucky few to be accepted into a clinical trial, she could receive a placebo instead of the drug.

Thousands more need the oil than clinical trials could treat, she said.

"I'm far more optimistic than I was a year ago," Swing said of the measure. House and Senate leaders will have to agree on the bills' differences for the measure to move forward.


Widespread Voter Fraud Discovered in N.C.

State elections officials said Wednesday that they're investigating hundreds of cases of voters who appear to have voted in two states and several dozen who appear to have voted after their deaths.

State lawmakers last year mandated the State Board of Elections to enter into an "Interstate Crosscheck" – a compact of 28 states that agreed to check their voter registration records against those of other states.

The program is run by a Kansas consortium, checking 101 million voter records.

State Board of Elections Executive Director Kim Westbrook Strach said North Carolina's check found 765 registered North Carolina voters who appear to match registered voters in other states on their first names, last names, dates of birth and the final four digits of their Social Security numbers. Those voters appear to have voted in North Carolina in 2012 and also voted in another state in 2012.

"Now we have to look individually at each one," Strach said. "Could there have been data error?"

The crosscheck also found 35,570 voters in North Carolina who voted in 2012 whose first names, last names and dates of birth match those of voters who voted in other states in 2012, but whose Social Security numbers were not matched.


State: S.C. Still Lacks Plan to Stopping Hackers

Nearly 18 months after hackers stole financial information belonging to 6.4 million S.C. taxpayers and businesses, state agencies still have no consistent plan for securing data, officials told a state Senate hearing Tuesday.

In response, some senators said they want to make cyber-security mandatory for state agencies.

“It’s a difficult process that’s probably not moving as quickly as we would like,” Sen. Joel Lourie, D-Richland, said after a Finance Committee hearing.

Sen. Kevin Bryant, R-Anderson, said agencies either should use standards set by the State Budget and Control Board, which oversees government operations, or show proof they have adopted accepted security practices. He said he was surprised there had not been another major data breach at a state agency since hackers managed to steal tax data from the Department of Revenue.

After the nation’s worst breach at a state agency, the budget board offered all departments cyber-security measures – including dual-password programs and laptop encryption – at no cost. This was in addition to computer network monitoring the budget board already offered.

The budget board received $10.9 million in additional state taxpayer money this year to buy new technology and build up its division of information security. The board wants another $20.7 million for the same purposes next year.

The S.C. Department of Revenue received more than $20 million in additional state money last year after the breach, including $12 million to pay a firm to provide credit monitoring for victims. Another $10 million was set aside for monitoring this year.

Various state agencies also have received money for security upgrades since the hacking.

But technology security remains decentralized among state agencies.

Those agencies are not required to use the state’s services, Budget and Control Board director Marcia Adams told senators on Tuesday. She said she did not know how many agencies were taking advantage of the budget office’s security offerings.

“Right now, we don’t have an audit capacity or an assessment capacity so we don’t know if” agencies are following statewide policies, Adams said.

Kyle Herron, the new head of the state division of technology, said his office still is gathering information about cyber-security measures from agencies. “There’s a lot of unknowns at this point,” he said.



Study: Scientists Decode Why Zebras Have Stripes

A team of researchers from the University of California, in their new study, seem to have uncovered the mystery behind the presence of black and white stripes on a zebra‘s body- biting flies. The scientists believe that biting flies such as horseflies and tsetse flies, could be responsible for the development of stripes on the zebra’s body. It was believed that these stripes could help zebras prevent themselves from predators and could also help them avoid ectoparasite attacks.

From camouflage to heat managements- scientists have been speculating of the possible reasons behind the appearance of stripes on a zebra’s body. ”I was amazed by our results,” lead author of the study,Tim Caro, a UC Davis professor of wildlife biology, explained. “Again and again, there was greater striping on areas of the body in those parts of the world where there was more annoyance from biting flies.”

Biting Flies May Have Caused Zebra’s Striped Body

Taking into consideration 7 different species of zebras, the scientists attempted to find out the exact cause behind the striped appearance of the zebras, and found how zebras in particular had shorter hair, and were therefore, more likely to be affected by endoparasite invasions, which causes them to have a striped appearance on their bodies.

However, it’s not over as yet; scientists are yet to find out the reason why biting flies tend to avoid striped surfaces, and what causes them to avoid looking at striped surfaces as their potential prey.

The results from the study are now published in the journal Nature Communications.


Council Oks Incentives for Project Current, CRR Carbon

Anderson County Council on Tuesday night approved a fee-in-lieu of tax incentive for Project Current, which will create 250 new jobs, with an average salary of $21 per hour, and $16.4 million economic investment, if the Ireland-based company to builds a manufacturing facility at the old Supreme site in Anderson. The company manufactures electrical components and the Anderson facility would be the company’s first facility in the U.S.

Council earlier approved the application of a $125,000 transit grant and a $46,000 grant from the state department of transportation to help secure funds for the new bus service between Anderson and Tri-County Technical College.

County Council also approved on second reading of several ordinances revising bonds at lower interest rates as part of Tuesday night's regular meeting in the historic courthouse downtown. The move will save the county an estimated $380,000.

Meanwhile, council approved on third reading a fee-in-lieu-of tax agreement with CRR Carbon Resources Recovery SC LLC and CRR-SC SPE, L1C, a manufacturer of recycled tire materials, is planning to locate its first North American facility in Anderson County. The company’s $20 million investment is expected to create approximately 30 new jobs at an average of $18 per hour, over the next two years.  

Earlier, council unanimously approved the recommendation by Planning and Public Works Committee to accept the first two chapters of the 283-page Anderson County Comprehensive Plan. Those chapters primarily dealt with the growth and aging of the county’s population, which continues to improve in levels of education and the steady reduction of the unemployment rate.

In an update on the county’s lawsuit against former Administration Joey Preston, Anderson County Councilwoman Gracie Floyd, said since council voted to continue the process of filing the lawsuit, July 1, 2013, $76,651.10 had been spent by the county on the case.  

“The price of this keeps going up and up, taking money from other things we need in our county,” Floyd said.


Anderson County HOME Consortium Offers Housing Repairs

The Anderson County HOME Consortium is offering grant assistance to owner occupied housing rehabilitation, and grants are now being taken. 

The goal of the Anderson HOME Consortium’s Owner-Occupied Housing Rehabilitation Program is to assist low to moderate-income homeowners in Anderson County and the City of Belton with the rehabilitation and conservation of the community’s older housing stock. Assistance will be provided in the form of forgivable grants to eligible homeowners to cover the cost of repairs and improvements necessary to make the property conform to public standards for decent, safe and sanitary housing as required by applicable codes.

Grants will be provided to cover the cost of repairs and improvements to make the property meet applicable housing codes and allow for modifications for handicapped or disabled persons (such as ramps, grab bars, and widening of doors). The maximum grant amount available for each house is $37,000. Total expenditures on a home cannot exceed the after rehab value of your home and all code violations must be corrected in the rehabilitation process.

How to Apply

Assistance is available on a first-come, first-serve basis to eligible homeowners as funds permit. Due to the nature of this program, it is expected that there will be more applicants than money available for projects. There will be a waiting list established for qualified applicants who are not selected for the current application cycle.

The application period will begin April 1st and remain open until April 15th. Applications can be obtained from the Anderson County Web Site (www.andersoncountysc.org), Anderson County Historic Courthouse, Belton City Hall, or the Appalachian Council of Governments web site (www.scacog.org). You can also contact David Acker at (864) 242-9733 for application and general information about the Owner-Occupied Housing Rehabilitation Program. Additional information about the application requirements and the program will be provided when you receive your application.

Completed applications must be accompanied by verification documents regarding: household income; proof of homeownership; employment; household members; savings and checking accounts; current utility bill and other forms to support application information. After submitting a completed application and the required documentation the applicant will be notified if they have been qualified and/or approved for the program. 

Eligibility Requirements

To be eligible for the program the home must be owner occupied and the applicant must qualify based on their household income which can be no greater than 80% of the Median Family Income for Anderson County. The following table outlines the income eligibility requirements based on the number of people per household. In addition, the condition of eligible homes must be substandard to qualify. A complete and detailed inspection must be performed by a certified home inspector to determine if it qualifies as substandard. The grants are not for minor repairs, remodeling, additions, or cosmetic improvements.


Persons in Household

Income Limits

$ 30,350

$ 34,700

$ 39,050

$ 43,350

$ 46,850

$ 50,300

$ 53,800

$ 57,250



President Insists Health Care Law Working

Barack Obama sought to turn the political tide on healthcare on Wednesday after a late surge in enrolment pushed the final number of Americans signing up for insurance under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to a slightly higher-than-expected 7.1m.

In his most upbeat domestic policy speech for many months, the president seized on the news to reframe the debate over what even the administration acknowledges has been a “crummy” policy implementation, and what polling suggests is threatening to sink Democrat chances in November's mid-term elections.

“This law is doing what it's supposed to do; it's working. All of which makes the lengths that critics have gone to scare people so hard to understand,” he told a crowd of smiling administration officials in the White House rose garden.

“I have to admit: I don't get why people are working so hard to stop Americans getting health cover,” added the president.

Republicans are campaigning heavily to repeal the ACA, especially on the grounds that it threatens to close many less-comprehensive insurance policies, but Obama claimed the longer-term need to reach millions of uninsured people would ultimately prove more important.

“In the end, history is not kind to those who would deny Americans their basic economic security,” he said. “Many of the tall tales have been debunked: there are still no death panels, [and] armageddon did not arrive.”

Obamacare, he added, was about “making sure that we are not the only advanced country that does not provide its people with basic healthcare”.

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GOP Challenger Calls Haley "Hypocritical"

Former state Rep. and judge Tom Ervin, who is seeking the GOP nomination for governor, said Tuesday that he offers leadership in the state lacking under Republican Gov. Nikki Haley.

"Our governor has been deceitful. She’s been hypocritical," he said during a news conference in Columbia. "She’s lied to us about so many things."

He argued Haley cannot oppose the Common Core education standards because she signed a memo bringing them into the state and was not truthful about supporting expansion of a Georgia port over aiding the Port of Charleston.

After his surprise filing Saturday, Ervin is self-financing his run at first. Ervin said he has cashed out his 401(k) and IRA to pay for the race and put $108,000 into his coffers. He said he’s looking for donors.

"I know I’m an underdog," he said. "All the experts say we don’t have a chance. Wait and see, we’re going to fight for every vote on June 10."

Ervin, 62, said he asked others to run, including Attorney General Alan Wilson. When no one wanted to challenge Haley, he entered the race. He is the only Republican challenging Haley, 42.

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News: S.C. 6th in Nation in Woman-Owned Businesses

More South Carolina women are opting to be their own bosses.

 The number of women-owned firms in the state grew to 114,500 or 78.3 percent between 1997 and 2014, according to the fourth annual State of Women-Owned Businesses Report commissioned by American Express Open.

The number of women-owned businesses nationwide has increased 68 percent to more than 9 million, the report said.

South Carolina ranked sixth in the nation for its of growth in women-owned firms. Georgia, Texas, North Carolina, Nevada, and Mississippi, respectively, were the top five states with the fastest growth in the number of those firms.

Randi Schochet, American Express OPEN vice president of brand strategy andactivation, said this year’s report “clearly shows that women are choosing the path of entrepreneurship at record rates.”

Nationwide, nearly 1,300 new businesses are being started by women each day, twice the rate from three years ago, the report said.

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Report: East-West Parkway to Extend to S.C. 28

A source close the the South Carolina Department of Transportation has confirmed plans for Anderson County to extend the East-West Parkway to connect with S.C. 28.

Construction is set to begin in November.

"The goal of project is to relieve congestion on Whitehall Road and provide ease of access from S.C. 81 to to S.C. 28," said one county official who asked not to be identified.

There is currently no deadline for completion of the project.

Developing. On April Fool's Day. Ahem.


S.C. to Give God Credit for Wooly Mammoth Fossil

An 8-year-old South Carolina girl's dream of having the woolly mammoth become the official state fossil has been put on hold while lawmakers debate an amendment that gives God credit for creation of the prehistoric animal.

A bill that recently passed the state House to designate the Columbian Mammoth as the state fossil stalled in the Senate after Republican Senator Kevin Bryant added two verses from the book of Genesis.

That amendment was ruled out of order but senators this week will debate a new amendment that says the mammoth was "created on the sixth day along with the beasts of the field," Bryant said on Monday.

"I just had a notion that we ought to consider acknowledging the creator as we acknowledge one of his creations," Bryant said.

The original measure followed a letter to elected officials by Olivia McConnell, an-8-year-old from New Zion, South Carolina.

In it, she pointed out that there is no state fossil, said Democratic Representative Robert Ridgeway, who received the letter and sponsored the measure.

McConnell suggested the elephant-like mammoth because an early find of its remains took place in 1725 on a South Carolina plantation where slaves dug up a tooth, Ridgeway said.

The woolly mammoth was a huge, shaggy, tusked mammal that roamed northern Europe, Siberia and North American tens of thousands of years ago and became extinct about 4,000 years ago.

Bryant said he does not intend to hold up the mammoth's official designation but would like a vote on his amendment and sees no legal problems with it.

Reaction from some South Carolina residents has been "nasty," he said.

"Please stop making our state look like backwards hillbillies who believe in fairy tales," Alex Davis commented on Bryant's website. "Keep your religious views out of the government."

Ridgeway said he was surprised at the controversy.

"I was just trying to support a young child who is interested in science," he said. "We should support children in any endeavor that they seem interested in. That's one thing the state should be behind."


GOP Hopes to Ride Anti-Obamacare Mood in Elections

Republicans are going all in, hoping that the payout is big. Like control of the Senate, big.

Their big bet: Obamacare.

The deadline to enroll in the Affordable Care Act for the year has come and gone. The Obama administration is touting the enrollment numbers as a successful first year, but Republicans think voter anger over the law is here to stay. And so, Republicans running for Congress and Senate continue to make it central to their campaign.

In the Arkansas Senate race, Republican challenger Tom Cotton is using Obamacare to fund-raise for his race against Democratic incumbent Mark Pryor. The first screen on Cotton's website is a plea for contributions that says, "Obamacare is so bad that Obama doesn't want it. Tell him neither do I."

Fund-raising schemes and campaign advertisements are central to Republican races in red and swing states around the country.

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