With the South Carolina Senate's vote to repeal the certificate of need process, two physicians could be a step closer to receiving the green light for a $12 million ASC after two years of roadblocks, The Times and Democrat reported Jan. 30.
The Senate voted 35-6 to ditch the program on Jan. 26, and the bill has been forwarded to the House for consideration.
The bill is supported by Dion Franga, MD, and Amit Sanghi, MD, of Ambulatory Partners, who submitted plans in 2020 to build the $12.5 million, 16,640-square-foot facility in Orangeburg.
Orangeburg-based Regional Medical Center opposes the ASC, which would be across the street from it. The hospital has the OK to build its own ASC, a $2.4 million facility that will be converted from a dialysis center.
The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control initially rejected Ambulatory Partner's application, but the physicians appealed the decision and it was approved. Regional Medical Center then appealed the approval.
A hearing on the case had been scheduled for April, but if the South Carolina legislature repeals the certificate of need law, both ASCs can move forward.
"It is time we put quality healthcare in front of politics and quit with the senseless monopolies," Dr. Franga wrote in an op-ed submitted to The Times and Democrat. "It is shameful to know that in an area as underserved and diverse as Orangeburg, there are those who have used the [certificate of need] process to the detriment of healthcare expansion in our area."
Ambulatory Partners has said its ASC would handle outmigration, while Regional Medical Center claims the center will harm it financially.
"A complete repeal of [certificate of need] would allow for-profit healthcare corporations to enter communities and deny services to low-income and indigent patients," the medical center told The Times and Democrat. "It will create an unlevel playing field between nonprofit hospitals like RMC and for-profit corporations."
Ambulatory Partners has said both ASCs are needed.