As South Carolina begins lifting restrictions on new medical facilities this summer, the barriers that have prevented hospitals in Georgia and North Carolina from setting up shop on the border will also disappear.
And some in Palmetto state are concerned about that.
“Our biggest concern with repeal is the border issue,” said MUSC Health CEO Dr. Patrick Corey.
The health care system has a pending project in Lancaster County, part of the Charlotte metropolitan area, just south of the North Carolina border, to relocate the already licensed beds in Lancaster’s hospitals to 98 Indianlands. We want to build a medical center on the floor. , about 20 miles away. A similar dispute erupted years ago over an attempt to build a hospital in Fort Mill on the North Carolina border.
Aiken County also attracted interest from the state of Georgia after the governor’s inauguration at the time. Nikki Haley vetoed funding for South Carolina’s Certificate of Needs program in 2013, sending hospital regulation up in the air after the Department of Health and Environmental Management said the program could not be enforced. It remained floating. The Augusta-based University Hospital (now Piedmont Augusta) proposed building a 50-bed hospital in Aiken near the Aiken Regional Medical Center, claiming that many of its patients hail from the area. The bid was eventually blocked in favor of CON in South Carolina and the proposal was rejected.
Thornton Kirby, CEO of the South Carolina Hospital Association, said border issues were a major concern for deregulation and had been brought to the attention of lawmakers. He said states such as Georgia and North Carolina may make similar changes in the near future, which is one reason the restrictions on hospitals will continue for another three years.
“If their system can invade our states and occupy our markets, and we can’t do the same with their systems across state lines, it’s not a free market. There were several legislative leaders who made the case,” Kirby said.
Georgia has made many efforts over the years to repeal this regulation, with a major revision in 2019. Among the changes were restrictions on who could oppose state licences, and health care providers being able to apply for independent emergency departments. , which was previously not allowed by the state.
As a result of this year’s efforts, research committees have been set up in both houses of Congress to review reforms in a series of meetings and report to Congress at their next session, said Anna Adams, executive vice president for foreign affairs at the Georgia Hospital Association. ) said. The group is also monitoring “very closely” events in South Carolina over the next year. A similar study committee has been established in the South Carolina Legislature.
But “there’s a lot of fluidity in medicine,” says Adams. “So if you compare Georgia and South Carolina, or Georgia and Florida, or Georgia and North Carolina, the states differ in how they manage health care, how they manage Medicaid, whether they have health insurance, and so on. There’s a lot of it, the expansion of Medicaid and things like that.
Christina Oh, chief executive of Trident Health System in the Charleston area, saw the border conflict firsthand as a Rock Hill hospital executive at the time the fighting over Fort Mill was underway. It’s a matter of fairness, she said.
“At the end of the day, what most of us want is a level playing field regardless of borders or health systems,” Oh said.
That’s one reason MUSC Health’s Corey expects other states to follow South Carolina’s lead.
“That would create a level playing field for everyone,” he says.
Shauna Adcox and Alexander Thompson Contributed to this report from Colombia.
Please contact Tom Corwin at 843-214-6584. Follow @AUG_SciMed on Twitter.