South Carolina CON Law to Remain in Place: 5 Things to Know
1. The controversy surrounding the CON program began when Governor Nikki Haley vetoed the nearly $2 million required to fund the program. Gov. Haley intended for healthcare facility planning and expansion to be left to the free market.
2. South Carolina hospitals sued, arguing that a simple veto of funds could not eliminate a program mandated by state law. The Supreme Court ultimately sided with the hospitals. In its decision, the court ordered the Department of Health and Environmental Control to begin running the program again. "The Governor's veto message leaves no doubt that she intended to use her line-item veto power to abolish the entire CON program. However, the Governor is not empowered to exercise her veto pen in a manner that so broadly affects public policy and attempts to alter legislative intent by reaching back to repeal a permanent law," wrote the court, according to The Post and Courier report.
3. Immediately following Gov. Haley's veto, DHEC laid off employees and shut down the program. During the arguments heard before the Supreme Court, DHEC attorneys pointed out that even emergency funding could only temporarily resurrect the program. The court mandated that the DHEC find another way to procure the necessary funding, perhaps by reorganizing its financial structure.
4. The DHEC requested that the Supreme Court review its ruling. Governor Haley supported the DHEC and argued that the court's decision set a "dangerous precedent." The Supreme Court denied the request for review and maintained its initial ruling.
5. The DHEC has begun to rehire staff for the program. The agency plans to begin accepting applications again in mid-July. At the time that Governor Haley's veto suspended the program, approximately $100 million in projects were stalled, according to the report.
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