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Legislature Fails to Eliminate Health Care, Hospital Barriers

May 14, 2021 by AFP

COLUMBIA, SC – Americans for Prosperity-South Carolina (AFP-SC) today expressed disappointment the legislature failed to advance S. 290, a bill that would repeal the state’s certificate of need (CON) laws.

AFP-SC Interim State Director Candace Carroll issued the following statement:

“The legislature once again failed to change our top-down approach to health care that’s making quality health care less accessible and more expensive. Refusing to repeal our state’s certificate of need laws ensures we have fewer hospital beds, fewer ambulatory surgery centers, and decreases access to critical health care services. We will hold lawmakers accountable for prolonging this broken status quo, and we will continue to press forward on this issue and make sure South Carolinians’ voices are heard in Columbia. It’s past time we lift these restrictions that are serving as a barrier for too many people from getting access to quality, affordable health care.”


Last week, AFP-SC announced a major ad and grassroots campaign focusing on expanding access to health care services by empowering South Carolinians to contact their lawmakers in support of S. 290. Right now, state law requires health facilities to get government approval before expanding existing or new services – or even purchase new medical equipment.

In 1971, lawmakers established the CON program to evaluate building plans and medical equipment purchases to determine which services are needed to address community medical needs and which services are unnecessary. However, the agency overseeing the program, the Department of Health and Environmental Control, routinely blocks new health care providers from offering essential health services across the state, especially in rural and underserved communities.

A Mercatus Center study found that, without a CON law, Palmetto State residents would have access to 34 additional hospitals — including nine rural installations — 12 additional ambulatory surgery centers, over 300 more PET scanners, and over 20,000 more MRI machines.

The CON law also means 6,331 fewer hospital beds.

In some cases, CON law restrictions are a matter of life and death. Mercatus also estimated that, without CON, South Carolina would suffer 5.1 percent fewer deaths as a result of post-surgery complications.