DHEC asks court to rule on hospitals

South Carolina health officials want the state Supreme Court to decide if the agency can suspend a program that regulates whether new medical facilities can be built, hospitals can expand and doctors can buy expensive equipment.

In a lawsuit obtained by The Associated Press, the Department of Health and Environmental Control asked the justices Monday to immediately take the case involving the Certificate of Need program.

Gov. Nikki Haley vetoed $1.7 million to run the program from the state budget last week. The House went along with the veto. Haley and DHEC say the decision means the program should end. House budget writers say DHEC can run the program with other money.

The South Carolina Hospital Association predicts legal challenges because the law authorizing it is still valid.