December 10, 2013
Columbia, SC – State Senator Joel Lourie pre-filed legislation today to restore the Department of Health and Environmental Control’s Certificate of Need (CON) program. According to state law, the purpose of the CON program is to promote cost containment, prevent unnecessary duplication of health care facilities and services, guide the establishment of health facilities and services which will best serve public needs, and ensure that high quality services are provided in health facilities in this state. .
The Certificate of Need law is still on the books in South Carolina. The state legislature did not repeal the code. Governor Nikki Haley vetoed the funding for the program and the House sustained her action. Lourie called on the Governor to convene a special session to deal with this issue in July of this year. His request was ignored by Governor Haley.
Lourie, who serves as a member of the Senate Medical Affairs Committee said “Healthcare planning and construction has been stuck in neutral since the Governor’s veto in July. We have hospitals and other providers waiting to invest close to $200 million in capital in South Carolina. This has an enormous impact on our economy and the quality of healthcare we deliver to our citizens”
According to an October 2013 South Carolina Hospital Association survey of medical providers:(http://www.scha.org/tools/files/results-of-scha-survey-of-members-on-con-suspension-10-25-13-52711b0a.pdf )
- 32 facilities that had CON applications under review representing projects totaling $96,319,899.13. Of those 32 facilities, 18 were South Carolina hospitals, with $83,020,136.00 in total project costs. Most of those projects also included plans to hire new employees. Because DHEC has taken the position that the CON program is suspended due to the funding cut, many communities around the state will not receive needed new or improved healthcare services as expected and will not have the additional capital investments and additional good paying jobs available, possibly as many as 125 new fulltime employees.
- 29 hospitals represented in the survey are now holding new CON applications that were ready to be submitted to DHEC, representing about $48 million in capital investment and almost 140 full-time jobs.
- More than 45% of our hospitals have delayed planned capital projects as a result of the suspension, with potential project costs of about $60 million.
- At least 34 hospitals in the survey report that stalled applications included plans for new physician equipment for patients, and as many as 8 hospitals said the CON uncertainty is directly impacting their physician recruitment efforts.
Lourie’s legislation restores the program by allowing the state’s Department of Health and Environmental Control agency the flexibility to transfer funding and requiring SCDHEC to reopen the Certificate of Need Office.
“We cannot afford to wait until the budget passes for next year, the timing is critical and we must take action now” said Lourie.