The South Carolina Supreme Court disagreed with the governor and upheld the state’s certificate of need law. The 1971 statute requires that hospitals and other care providers must prove to the Department of Health and Environmental Control the need to expand or build facilities
In a line-item budget veto last year, Gov. Nikki Haley stopped CON funding, thus DHEC stopped its enforcement. In a 4-1 ruling, state’s high court said that DHEC is required to fund the CON program, regardless of the 2013–2014 Appropriations Act’s failure to appropriate funding for the program.
Gov. Haley opposes the program as government meddling in the free market. The House agreed and sustained her veto in the final budget last year.
But that left hospitals and health care facilities uncertain about how to proceed, which led to the lawsuit.
The Supreme Court said in its decision: “We have held that the permanent law mandating the CON program was not affected by House of Representatives’ decision to sustain Veto 20. Under the CON Act, DHEC’s responsibility to administer the CON Act is not discretionary, and thus, DHEC must comply with the CON Act—a duty that inevitably encompasses funding the CON program.”
According to the Island Packet newspaper, DHEC plans to file a motion for reconsideration with the SC Supreme Court.
A spokesman for Gov. Nikki Haley, Doug Mayer, released this statement today:
“The Certificate of Need program is outdated and bad public policy, which is why the governor vetoed it and the House voted to support her decision. Governor Haley is determined and will continue working with like-minded legislators to reform a clearly politically driven process that puts additional bureaucracy between South Carolinians and their health care decisions.”