SC Senate Votes to Repeal Certificate of Need Statute

January 27, 2022

Oran P. Smith, Ph.D

Senior Fellow

On January 25, 2022, the South Carolina Senate voted to repeal the state’s Certificate of Need statute! Certificate of Need is that odious, decades-old law that requires permission from the state (and often one’s competitors) to build a healthcare facility or even offer a healthcare service.

The bill that passed is S.290 sponsored by Senator Wes Climer (R-York). The final vote was 35-6. The legislation now makes its way across the lobby to the South Carolina House of Representatives, where it will face stiff opposition from many in the healthcare status quo. More on that (and how you can help) later.

How did this happen? Years of persistent education, lawmakers willing to engage and jump on a strategic opportunity…and a new day in the South Carolina Senate!

The hard work of Senator Wes Climer and his colleagues cannot be overestimated. Majority Leader Shane Massey masterfully directed traffic on the floor over the last several weeks, and both Democrats and Republicans rose in support of Climer. (They each found ammunition in the anti-CON policies of both the Obama and Trump Administrations.)

Readers of our regular reports on Certificate of Need will recall the dramatic showdown last year where Climer stood alone astride the legislative train track, refusing to budge until Certificate of Need repeal got a hearing and a vote on the Senate floor. Senator Dick Harpootlian (D-Richland) joined Climer that day, shocking the throngs in the lobby. That Climer-Harpootlian moment was captured in this PPI video.

No one gave Climer much of a chance that day—or earlier on January 21, 2020 when Climer stood in the rotunda with Palmetto Promise Institute and his Senate colleagues Tom Davis and Mike Gambrell to raise the standard for healthcare freedom. Shortly after that, COVID hit and Governor Henry McMaster set aside certain provisions of our CON law to help avoid the healthcare catastrophes seen in other states as a result of the outbreak.

We now face the challenge of reproducing the Senate victory in the House. Longtime observers of the Statehouse will understand the irony of that last sentence. For twenty years the South Carolina House has been the driver of many commonsense reforms…which would typically then go to languish across the lobby. No more. Now under Senate President Thomas Alexander, Senator Harvey Peeler, and Leader Massey —and thoughtful articulate young Senators like Wes Climer—the Senate is stepping up like never before.

Stay tuned to Palmetto Promise Institute for how you can reach out to your SC House member to tell them you want the market for healthcare in South Carolina to expand to meet the demands of the future.