This week, South Carolina residents have reason to celebrate as the state has repealed Certificate of Need (CON) laws. While most people may not be familiar with the term, the effects of these laws are felt every day. CON laws were introduced in the 1960s as a misguided way to control healthcare costs by limiting the number of medical facilities and equipment suppliers through requiring healthcare providers to obtain a certificate of need from the state before opening a new facility, expanding an existing one, or purchasing new equipment. The aim was to limit competition, thus controlling costs.
However, as the Palmetto Promise Institute and other advocates have pointed out, CON laws have created monopolies in certain areas, leading to higher costs and reduced access to care. The lengthy and expensive CON process has also made it difficult for healthcare providers to enter the market or expand their services, reducing the number of providers available to patients.
During this year’s South Carolina general assembly hearings, everyday citizens shared their heart-wrenching stories about how CON laws have affected them. Many were unable to access the necessary therapies for their special needs children or mental health treatments. Others had to wait for critical tests and treatments. Delayed diagnosis or treatment due to long wait times is a frustrating and often life-altering experience.
Thankfully, the Palmetto Promise Institute, led by our Senior Fellow Dr. Oran Smith, has been advocating for the repeal of CON laws in South Carolina. We were supported by dedicated members of both the House and Senate, as well as grassroots groups in the state that rallied behind the issue. Thanks to our collective efforts, South Carolina has now repealed CON laws, paving the way for a more patient-centered and efficient healthcare system.
While the changes won’t be felt overnight, the repeal of CON laws is a step towards a more affordable, accessible, and effective healthcare system. Eliminating unnecessary regulations and promoting competition will lead to more options for patients, lower healthcare costs, and increased innovation in healthcare services. As the president of the Palmetto Promise Institute, I will continue to advocate for policies that promote the free market and eliminate unnecessary government intervention in our healthcare system.