SC Supreme Court hearing state health premium suit

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) -- South Carolina highest court is taking up a lawsuit over increases in public workers' health insurance premiums.

The state Supreme Court Wednesday is hearing a University of South Carolina professor's case against the Budget and Control Board.

Thomas Bryson sued after the panel's August vote to split the cost of the hikes between employers and workers, raising rates on both by 4.6 percent.

Legislators had agreed in the state budget to provide money for agencies, school districts and public colleges to fully cover the hikes. Bryson says the panel lacked the authority to raise premiums in spite of lawmakers' action.

The high court has blocked the increase until they could hear the case. Proposed legislation would keep premiums the same throughout 2013 regardless of the board's decision.