CON laws leading to high maternal mortality rates in SC

It’s no small deal that the repeal of these laws failed this past session.

We’ve covered the fight to repeal Certificate of Need laws in South Carolina extensively this year. If you aren’t up to speed you can get caught up here and here.

Unfortunately, while the governor advocated for the end to this disgusting system, and while advocates on the ground believed they had the votes, the bill was mysteriously killed on a procedural move in the eleventh hour. Shortly thereafter, the Speaker of the House resigned and accepted a job as the top lobbyist for the state’s largest hospital association.

Yes, really. We’re not writers on House of Cards – you think we could make this stuff up?

We already knew this was bad news for anyone seeking healthcare in the states, but a new expose shows this is especially bad news for expectant mothers.

According to The State Newspaper, “The Palmetto State has for years had one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the nation. Black women, regardless of income or educational level, are especially at risk, dying at rates roughly three times that of white women.”

Umm, yikes. But wait, it gets worse.

WBTW also reports that South Carolina’s NICU rates have also doubled since 2004. They said, “In 2004, 58.5 babies per 1,000 born statewide – or 5.9% – ended up in a NICU. By 2020, that had reached 94.5 babies per 1,000 born, or 9.4%, totaling 5,264 babies.”

‘Gee, what could be going on there?’ you might ask.

To which you’d see me, in my desk, arm stretched high, frantically waving to be picked on. I can connect the dots for you.

One of the top causes of maternal mortality is a lack of quality care. CON laws create healthcare deserts and make it harder for women to access care, delay the time it takes for them to access it, and often lead to them getting less quality attention when they do receive care at all.

Of the numerous healthcare options ruled by CON in the state are OB beds, and other maternal care diagnostic and treatment services would also be regulated if the total project costs exceed $600,000.

The state heavily regulates healthcare options for expectant mothers and babies, has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the state, and has seen the number of babies needing extensive care in the state double. Shocker. Who could have possibly predicted this.

But I can actually connect the dots even more tightly than that.

Currently, two of the hospitals in the state are actually tied up in a CON law battle over expanding NICU units. Each had their appeal approved last year, but then legally challenged the other’s approval…because we don’t want any competition around here, ya hear?

Currently two hospitals in the Charleston area are in a legal battle over NICUs. Each had a CON approved last year and they each legally challenged the other’s approval. Those hospitals are Summerville Medical Center and MUSC Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital, in case you want to send any hate mail.

It’s no small deal that the repeal of CON laws failed this past session. These are disgusting, anti-capitalist rot meant to prevent competition, keep prices high, and ultimately, block people from care. There is absolutely no excuse for anyone to support this corruption. Politicians need to quit kissing babies and instead make sure they have options for care when they’re born.

Hannah Cox is a fellow at Americans for Prosperity, an organization working for CON law reform.

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Hannah Cox
Hannah Cox
Hannah Cox is a libertarian-conservative writer and co-founder of BASEDPolitics. She's also the host of the BASEDPolitics podcast and an experienced political activist.