WINSTON-SALEM – There are lots of completely backward, anti-liberty, anti-free market state government policies that get a frustratingly large amount of protection from Republican super-majorities that can override vetoes. Perhaps none of them are more consequential for North Carolinians, and less talked about come election time, than the racket that is Certificate of Need (CON) regulations.
These laws make healthcare providers ask the State for permission to offer legitimate healthcare services, lest the new competition hurts existing hospitals and healthcare service providers. Wouldn’t want there to be too many healthcare options out there, would we?
Naturally, the State is tight-fisted with the permits because CON restrictions prevent competition to deep-pocketed hospitals who reliably grease the palms of lawmakers via their extensive lobbying arms.
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All of this drives up the cost of healthcare, and drives down access to services. Government regulation at its finest.
But an enterprising doctor in Forsyth County is challenging these big government rules in court, after they hindered him from offering imaging services at ONE THIRD the price you’d pay at a hospital. You know, that 3 minute MRI that will cost you thousands of dollars to (hopefully) find out nothing is wrong? Dr. Singh wanted to offer such imaging at more economical, transparent – along with his other low-cost imaging options – but Big State Government won’t let him do it.
“Imagine living in a neighborhood dominated by expensive restaurants with poor service and lackluster food. You see an opportunity and decide to open your own restaurant, but when you apply for your basic business license, a regulator says “there are already enough restaurants in your neighborhood and your competition might put them out of business,” and denies your application.
That’s precisely the predicament that Dr. Gajendra Singh finds himself in, except that instead of opening a restaurant, he’s opened a low-cost, transparently priced medical imaging center in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.”
It bares repeating that this asinine system of CON regulations, something so stupid and ineffective that even the federal government did away with its own version of it, is being protected, right now, by Republican super-majorities in the General Assembly.
Some principled lawmakers, such as Sen. Ralph Hise (R-Madison) have introduced bills to reform or outright repeal CON laws multiple times. The bills don’t go anywhere though because they are squashed by leadership at the behest of the lobbyist for the Orwellian-named N.C. Healthcare Association.
Being that it’s campaign season and you might just see and engage with your local representatives at a community event, you might want to ask them why they want to keep healthcare prices so artificially high? And if they don’t, then why they haven’t moved to repeal a state enforced monopoly that drains your hard-earned money at the hospital or doctor’s office just to keep select interest groups shielded from competition.
Their excuses will be many, and most assuredly will include protecting rural hospitals’ survival – the lines fed directly from the hospital association.
Read more about Dr. Singh and the Institute for Justice’s efforts to roll back these harmful laws here. Share it with anyone you know that has ever complained about the cost of simple healthcare services.