Hospitals sue DHEC over Certificate of Need veto

      COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - Hospitals and health care associations in South Carolina say a program should be reinstated that regulates whether new medical facilities can be built, hospitals can expand and doctors can buy expensive equipment.

      Groups including the South Carolina Hospital Association on Thursday asked the state Supreme Court to force the Department of Health and Environmental Control to continue operating the Certificate of Need program.

      DHEC chief Catherine Templeton suspended the program in June after the Legislature did nor override Gov. Nikki Haley's veto of $1.7 million to run it.

      DHEC is reviewing the hospitals' lawsuit. Anticipating lawsuits, the agency has also asked justices for an opinion on suspending the program.

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