Poll: Expanded healthcare choices key for SC voters

Palmetto State voters want expanded healthcare options through increased choice and competition, according to a new poll conducted on behalf of the South Carolina Policy Council.

Specifically, voters are in favor of ending the state’s Certificate of Need (CON) requirement for hospitals and healthcare facilities. They also strongly support giving nurse practitioners more autonomy, allowing for more flexibility in telehealth, and advancing reciprocal agreements for medical licenses.

By a double-digit margin, voters favor repealing CON laws.

When asked: “As you may know, a proposal has been made to repeal a law in South Carolina that requires healthcare providers to receive state permission before they build new facilities or purchase large medical equipment. Supporters of this proposal believe this law would allow for more competition in healthcare. Critics of this proposal believe this law could negatively impact rural hospitals. Do you support or oppose this proposal?”

35% supported the proposal, with 24% opposed. 41% were either neutral or unsure.

A bill to repeal many of South Carolina’s CON policies passed the Senate during the 2022 legislative session but was never taken up by the House. The South Carolina Policy Council will continue to monitor and advocate for similar legislation heading into 2023. 

When asked about telehealth – which allows patients to receive medical services that are provided remotely – 74% of voters said healthcare and insurance regulations should be changed to allow for the most flexible use of telehealth services. Only 12% disagreed.

81% of S.C. voters agreed that “healthcare providers should be allowed to use the full scope of their education and training, such as nurse practitioners being allowed to see patients independently for services they have been trained to offer.” Only 9% disagreed.

South Carolina is one of 11 “restricted practice” states for Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs), who are specially trained nurses with extended education. Here, APRNs are required to have a signed agreement with a physician (which must be renewed annually) that outlines the scope of their services before they can start practicing.

81% also agreed that South Carolina and other states “should allow healthcare providers in good standing in their primary state to register and be granted a full license to practice in accordance with their training.”  Only 7% disagreed.

While South Carolina is a member of the Nurse Licensure Compact, which permits some nurses to practice in other states without getting an additional license, APRNs still need an individual license in each state they practice. There is an ongoing effort to establish an APRN compact, though it’s in the early stages.

Find the full voter survey results here. If you have questions about the poll or would like arrange an interview, please email dallas@scpolicycouncil.org.

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