Cindi Scoppe’s July 9 column, “Hospitals not blameless for ignoring law,” attacks businesses for following what they understood as the law.
Over the past year, numerous businesses have made substantial investments in land, buildings and personnel based on the understanding that the certificate of need permitting program was suspended for the fiscal year because funding was vetoed by Gov. Nikki Haley and her veto was sustained by the House of Representatives. The Legislature’s failure to address this issue after the state Supreme Court ruled that suspension invalid was bad public policy and only increased uncertainty for businesses expanding and creating jobs.
In her veto message, Gov. Haley wrote, “The Certificate of Need program is an intensely political one through which bureaucratic policymakers deny new healthcare providers from offering treatment. We should allow the market to work rather than politics.”
As a result of the House sustaining the veto, Department of Health and Environmental Control Director Catherine Templeton told businesses that the certificate of need permitting program was suspended. Ms. Templeton only did what she was directed to do by the leadership of this state. The removal of funding for the program was a clear indication that the governor and General Assembly wanted to do away with the program and let free markets dictate growth..
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Now, Scoppe is attacking businesses that were simply following what Ms. Templeton told them was the law and creating jobs for citizens. It would be extremely unfair for businesses to be forced to start the arduous permitting process all over. Scoppe even implies that punishment would have been in order for these businesses that followed the direction of the head of the state agency responsible for implementing the program. This is not just about hospitals but about many other health-care businesses that expanded over the past year.
The S.C. Chamber of Commerce and other organizations warned the Legislature that action was needed as businesses — which must move forward with capacity and growth needs — continued to expand. The Chamber asked the General Assembly to remove the uncertainty by grandfathering health-care facilities that undertook projects or purchased equipment based on the understanding that the program was suspended. In the end, the House of Representatives failed to adopt the compromise that the Senate offered. The inaction only exacerbates this bad policy. Businesses cannot be punished for following what they were told was the law.
Scoppe even suggests that these businesses took advantage of the situation and didn’t want to be “bothered with obeying the law.” Every business across this state should take issue with that statement.
CEO, S.C. Chamber of Commerce