South Carolina's highest court will debate over whether the state's health agency can end a program that regulates the building or expansion of medical facilities.

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COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - South Carolina's highest court is gearing up for a debate over whether the state's health agency can end a program that regulates the building or expansion of medical facilities.

The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments Thursday on the Certificate of Need program. The Department of Health and Environment Control suspended the program last year after Gov. Nikki Haley vetoed the $1.7 million needed to run it.

State law still requires medical facilities to acquire a Certificate of Need from DHEC before building, expanding, offering a new service or buying medical equipment costing more than $600,000. Groups including the South Carolina Hospital Association say the program can't be suspended just because it's been unfunded.

Several dozen projects worth $100 million were being reviewed by DHEC when Haley vetoed funding.

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