Health care facility application now in limbo

  • Posted: Saturday, June 29, 2013 12:13 a.m.

A home health care company which has filed an application to provide service here is facing some uncertainty about its future in Aiken County after an announcement from the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control that it would suspend its review of such applications.

Department of Health and Environmental Control Director Catherine Templeton is telling South Carolina health care providers that her agency will no longer run the Certificate of Need program and won’t look at any projects awaiting a review, according to a letter from the agency obtained on Friday by The Associated Press.

CareSouth HHA Holdings of South Carolina LLC filed a Certificate of Need application with the department for the establishment of a home health agency. The project cost is approximately $77,000.

Now, the application is apparently in limbo.

“We are really uncertain as to what effect this will have on us. We are sort of in limbo right now having filed an application and it being deemed complete,” said Rick Griffin, president and chief executive officer, CareSouth Health System Inc.

This week, Gov. Nikki Haley vetoed $1.7 million to run the program from the state’s spending plan. The House refused to override the veto, so Templeton said there is no way to run the program without money, according to the Associated Press. About three dozen projects worth about $90 million are awaiting Department of Health and Environmental Control approval.

“Many of us questioned the need for Certificates of Need,” said Rep. Bill Taylor. “Why is the government again in this business, to pick winners and losers? If there is a demand for more health care facilities, why not let them come? They would still be subject to regulation. I say, ‘Y’all come in.’ I am in favor of the elimination of Certificates of Need.”

The Associated Press reports the decision won’t affect the department’s licensing program.

Essentially, the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control’s application review covered the request’s alignment with the needs of residents – analyzing demographic information, population growth and current use of medical services – a determination of whether the request would duplicate services and the project cost and client charges.

This approach has resulted in the location of a nursing home in every county in South Carolina, the availability of home health services in every county in the state, and the provision or expansion of renal dialysis services to most rural counties, according to the department’s website.

Haley Hughes is the news editor for the Aiken Standard. She joined the newspaper in 2007 and covered Aiken County government until her promotion in 2013. Hughes, a graduate of Middle Tennessee State University, hails from Knoxville, Tenn.

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