COLUMBIA --- The South Carolina Senate on Tuesday confirmed Tony Keck as the new director of the cash-strapped state Medicaid agency.
The 41-0 vote means Keck will have to scramble over the coming week to devise a plan to deal with a $228 million deficit at the Department of Health and Human Services.
Republican Gov. Nikki Haley praised the Senate for moving swiftly on Keck's confirmation.
Keck said he already was heading over to the agency to begin diving into the numbers and program cuts suggested by his predecessor.
Officials had previously announced plans starting in February to stop paying for adult dental, vision and hospice services. Authorities also envision reducing home health visits for the state's elderly and disabled by a third.
Keck said Haley has advised him to take a second look at proposed cuts to "make sure, one, they're actually doing the job we want, in terms of saving money, but aren't going to have undue harm on recipients or services."
Feb. 7 is national black HIV/AIDS day
COLUMBIA --- Feb. 7 is National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, and South Carolina state officials are announcing plans to address prevention and education.
Blacks make up 30 percent of the South Carolina and Georgia populations, but 70 percent of the newly diagnosed HIV/AIDS cases in South Carolina and 74 percent of new cases in Georgia, according to agency data. In South Carolina, blacks make up 80 percent of the 15- to 24-year-olds who are newly diagnosed with HIV/AIDS.
The Department of Health and Environmental Control will offer free HIV testing and HIV educational forums with housing communities, churches and community centers.
Senate cuts jobless claim response time
COLUMBIA --- The state Senate has approved a fix to South Carolina's new unemployment law that delayed how fast jobless workers got benefits.
By a 42-0 vote Tuesday, the Senate cut the time that businesses have to respond to jobless claims from 10 business days to 12 calendar days.
If that last day falls on a weekend or holiday, the report can be delayed until the next business day.
The old law gave businesses seven days to respond. A change in April left South Carolina unable to keep federal standards to make payments within 21 calendar days.
In September, South Carolina paid 69 percent of its claims on time by that benchmark. Only the District of Columbia and Louisiana had worse records.
The bill now goes back to the House.