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Crunch Time On SC Certificate Of Need Reform

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ANTI-FREE MARKET MEASURE COULD SURVIVE THANKS TO STUBBORN S.C. SENATE 

We wrote earlier this year about the need to do away with South Carolina’s “certificate of need” (CON) program.  In fact we praised the S.C. House of Representatives for scrapping this controversial standard – which mandates that hospitals hoping to build new facilities, establish new services, make certain capital expenditures or purchase certain new equipment receive prior approval from the government before doing so.

Yeah … you read that right.  South Carolina lets its government determine when and how hospitals are allowed to expand.

You know, because state government in South Carolina clearly ought to be in charge of more stuff (see here, here and here for its track record on core functions of government).

Anyway, this probably won’t come as a shock to our readers but the CON program isn’t about “lowering health care costs” – as its proponents claim – it’s about permitting certain hospitals to enjoy effective monopolies over their competition.

Monopolies reduce choice.  And you don’t lower prices by reducing choices.

That’s why we’ve consistently opposed the CON program …

If a decision is left up to the government, then the beneficiary of that decision will invariably be some wealthy, well-connected special interest.  The loser?  The free market and consumers (like us) who rely on it to keep prices low.

“This (CON program) is special interest-driven politics at its worst: Creating (or maintaining) draconian government regulations against an entire industry – and then completely ignoring these regulations when a wealthy special interest comes calling,” we wrote back in March.  “It is the definition of playing political favorites – of government picking winners and losers in the marketplace.

To its credit, the S.C. House has done away with this program.  And to her credit, S.C. governor Nikki Haley has supported them (albeit hypocritically).

The problem?  South Carolina’s Senate … which is running out of time to approve or amend the House bill doing away with this abomination.

If nothing is done by next Tuesday, the CON will live to fight another day … meaning your health care choices will continue to be controlled by government.

Last year’s House vote to do away with this ridiculous measure was overwhelming: 103-1.

For the Senate to obstruct in the face of that level of support is unfortunate, but then again a horde of lobbyists – and several mainstream media outlets in the state – are egging them on.

“There are good reasons not to simply allow the free market to dictate how health care is dispersed in the state,” the left-leaning editorial board of the Rock Hill Herald wrote earlier this year.

Um, no.  No there aren’t.

We’ve said it before, we’ll say it again: It is not government’s job to keep health care costs low … it is the free market’s job.  In fact, every time government steps into this marketplace in the name of “affordability,” the end result is always higher health care costs.

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