By Jon Styf
The Center Square – A bill to repeal the certificate of need law in South Carolina has died in a House committee.
Last week, the South Carolina House Ways and Means Committee voted to end debate on S. 290, which passed the Senate in January.
“Trying to build toward a workable solution and product to move forward to then set us up for a conference report and committee with the Senate became more elusive and more problematic as we went through the process,” Majority Leader Gary Simrill, R-York, said. “… 2023 gives us a great opportunity to move forward with something that’s both approvable and it is workable, that protects South Carolinians.”
Certificate of need laws were mandated by the federal government in 1974 and regulate how many medical facilities are available in an area and what services they provide in an effort to reduce consumer costs. Even though Congress later eliminated the CON requirement in 1987, many states retained them.
The Senate approved the bill, which would’ve fully repealed the state’s certificate of need law. But the House said that it did not have the consensus to do the same. A House ad hoc committee had added an amendment to the bill on Wednesday that would have kept CON laws but loosened their requirements.
Rep. Bill Herbkersman, R-Beaufort, said that he felt both legislative bodies were “negotiating in good faith” until recently when the Senate would not compromise on repeal.
CON is Like a Rotary Dial Phone
On Tuesday, Gov. Henry McMaster sent a letter asking the House of Representatives to fully repeal.
“I believe that CON has become antiquated and ineffective in today’s modern free marketplace, much in the same way that rotary phones are no longer practical for telecommunications purposes,” McMaster wrote. “CON stifles entrepreneurship, capital investment, and competition while limiting access and creating monopolies in South Carolina’s health care market.”
Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter, D-Orangeburg, said that compromise and consensus would be essential in future CON negotiations.
Simrill cited 2016 when the House passed CON reform but the Senate then did not act on the bill. Simrill said that it was clear, a thorough discussion that CON reform is needed.
“We set out to see if there was a way to move forward with both eliminating what I would call the most egregious parts of CON, the weaponization that is used oftentimes with CON,” Simrill said. “The lengthy process. In York County, over a decade was spent on certificate of need over a hospital. And, at the end of the day, the question wasn’t who would get to build the hospital in the Fort Mill area of York County but who wouldn’t get to build the hospital. And so it was a reverse tack. Those parts of CON, of course, need to be dealt with.”
Candace Carroll, South Carolina State Director for Americans for Prosperity, said that the excuse of running out of time in the legislative session doesn’t add up.
“The excuse that time is running out is unacceptable!” Carroll said. “The House has been sitting on this bill for months — and took 3 weeks off in the middle of session. The real loss is South Carolinians who stood to access health care closer to home. Rest assured, the fight is not over.
“We will continue to push for the repeal of the burdensome red tape that holds doctors and providers back. We will also hold accountable those representatives that had an opportunity to vote in favor of full repeal on Tuesday in the ad hoc committee and those who failed to voice their opposition to the motion to adjourn debate in full committee today.”
Jon Styf (email@example.com) is a staff reporter for The Town Square. Reprinted with permission.