DHEC to hold Certificate of Need public meetings

The state health department has proposed changes to the program that regulates the number of hospital beds in South Carolina.

The South Carolina health department released a revised version of its state health plan this week. The proposed plan, which sets rules for the controversial Certificate of Need policy, will be open for public comment through May 13.

Ultimately, any change to the program, which primarily regulates the number of hospital beds around the state, must be approved by the Legislature.

Gov. Nikki Haley tried to scrap Certificate of Need altogether two years ago by vetoing funding for it. She claimed at the time that it hampers competition. Certificate of Need proponents say it helps control health care costs.

The state Supreme Court decided last year that the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control must enforce the rules, whether it receives funding for the program or not.

DHEC plans to hold regional meetings about the proposed changes during the week of May 4, but the agency has not released details about the exact times or locations of those meetings.

A copy of the draft plan is available online at www.scdhec.gov.

Reach Lauren Sausser at 937-5598.