George Will on NC Doctor’s Legal Challenge to CON Laws

Columnist George Will takes on North Carolina’s oppressive Certificate of Need law and explores the legal challenge to it being mounted by enterprising doctor that just wants to offer more affordable care with transparent prices.

From the Washington Post:

Governments, seemingly eager to supply their critics with ammunition, constantly validate historian Robert Conquest: The behavior of any bureaucratic organization can best be understood by assuming that it is controlled by a secret cabal of its enemies. Consider North Carolina’s intervention in the medical-devices market.

Born in India, Gajendra Singh is an American citizen and a surgeon in Winston-Salem who wants to supply something useful for which there is a strong demand. North Carolina’s government is, however, an almost insuperable impediment to his doing so.

Singh runs a medical diagnostic imaging center where patients can get X-rays, echocardiograms, ultrasounds and CT (computed tomography) scans. It cannot, however, be a full-service center without an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) machine, and local hospitals offering MRIs are averse to competition.

Americans with high-deductible insurance plans, which are increasingly prevalent, especially need low-cost diagnostic services. The median Winston-Salem household income is about $40,000. The average MRI at a North Carolina hospital costs $2,000. Singh charges $500 to $700 for the MRIs he does using rental machines that the state’s harassing law requires to be moved once a week. Singh wants to buy an MRI machine. North Carolina, however, has a “certificate of need” (CON) law, requiring Singh to prove to the Soviet-style central planners in the state government that Singh’s area needs another machine.

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