COLUMBIA – State health officials told doctors and hospitals across South Carolina they can buy whatever equipment they want and start building whatever they think they need after the agency suspended a program that reviewed those requests.

“Suspending the program has the practical effect of allowing new and expanding health care facilities to move forward without the Certificate of Need process,” Chairman of the House Committee Templeton wrote.

But the chairman of the committee that helps writes the state budget said the House didn’t intend for the program to be suspended when it removed $1.7 million from its budget.

House Ways and Means Chairman Brian White issued a statement Friday reiterating what he said on the House floor two days before – that DHEC could find other money in the agency’s budget to run the program

“If the governor and the agency director wish to unilaterally discontinue the program, as they have indicated, then that is a decision that lies exclusively within the executive branch and one which may be contrary to law but is certainly contrary to the will and intent of the House of Representatives,” the Anderson Republican said in his statement.

Even if lawmakers come back in January and give the program money, Templeton said she would not take any action against medical companies that expand unless the General Assembly specifically instructed her to do so.

About three dozen projects worth about $90 million are awaiting DHEC approval.