Lawmakers vote overwhelmingly to eliminate Certificate of Need, changing SC health care industry


The South Carolina Legislature voted overwhelmingly to change the health care industry in the state.

Lawmakers are eliminating the state’s Certificate of Need, which was established in 1971.

It is intended to promote cost containment, prevent unnecessary duplication of health care facilities and services, guide the establishment of health facilities and services that will best serve public need, and ensure high-quality services are provided in health facilities in this state, according to the Department of Health and Environmental Control.

Under Certificate of Need, a health care provider that wants to expand or build a new facility needs approval from state health officials, and that request is allowed to be appealed by any competitors.

While it was intended to promote affordable health care and eliminate unnecessary duplication of services, many lawmakers say it causes more harm than good.

The House and Senate overwhelmingly approved the bill, which is designed to eliminate Certificate of Need, and Gov. Henry McMaster confirmed Thursday that he will sign it into law.

One of those lawmakers who has been working to eliminate Certificate of Need is Rep. Mike Burns of Greenville County.

“Many South Carolinians have lacked access to speedy health care, and over the years, what used to get done in a week or two– you get in line and wait months to get it done, and this should start the pendulum swinging back the other way,” said Burns.

Lawmakers argue it encourages health care monopolies, which among other things, drives up cost.

“There are tens of millions of dollars in investors just waiting to get more access just in Greenville County in the Upstate right now,” Burns said.

Large health care systems, including Prisma Health, are not supportive of an effort to remove Certificate of Need. Tammie Epps, spokesperson for Prisma Health, released a statement to WYFF 4 Thursday:

“As an organization which provides care for all in many rural and urban areas in South Carolina, we remain concerned about healthcare accessibility following the phasing out of CON requirements in South Carolina. However, Prisma Health is prepared and committed to continuing our mission of serving our patients and communities in an ever-changing and competitive healthcare environment.”

The South Carolina Hospital Association also released a statement to WYFF 4:

“SCHA has long-supported reforming South Carolina’s Certificate of Need program to meet the modern needs of the state’s hospitals and health systems. We support the plan passed by the General Assembly, as it temporarily preserves the process for hospitals and provides a period to monitor the impact of this significant legislation on healthcare access in South Carolina. It will also ensure that specialty providers are required to provide a certain level of indigent care to help serve the state’s uninsured and underinsured citizens. While this is a major change for our healthcare community, the state’s hospitals will continue to provide high-quality preventive and life-saving care to the people of South Carolina,” Schipp Ames, Vice President of Strategic Marketing and Communications, said.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *