The S.C. Supreme Court heard oral arguments today in a lawsuit filed against a state agency for suspending a program that gives clearance to hospitals and nursing homes to build or expand.
The Department of Health and Environmental Control suspended the Certificate of Need program after Gov. Nikki Haley vetoed the line item that included funding for it and other DHEC programs. The state House sustained that veto, and shortly thereafter, DHEC eliminated the program and staff positions that ran it.
The S.C. Hospital Association and S.C. Health Care Association -- along with about 10 hospitals and nursing home companies -- say that the veto did not remove the requirement to follow the law.
Attorneys representing the petitioners argued Thursday that DHEC's obligation to enforce the program also remained, and the agency should have found a way to continue it. They say hospitals and medical care providers have millions of dollars in projects on the line with the program in limbo.
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But attorneys for DHEC argued Thursday that the veto did, in effect, suspend the department's obligation to enforce the law.
After the veto was sustained, DHEC informed medical providers to move forward with projects and that the agency would not regulate them.
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