RALEIGH – Nearly every year a select few Republican state lawmakers file legislation to liberate healthcare providers from the asinine and antiquated Certificate of Need (CON) laws that do little more than offer connected cronies state-sponsored protection from competition while increasing costs and reducing access to healthcare for North Carolinians.
This year, as the General Assembly works to pass a biennial budget bill, it looked as if at least portions of the CON regime has a chance of being repealed. Namely, CON requirements would be repealed for ambulatory surgery centers and dialysis centers, among other select categories. Alas, the cronies set out to insure their investment in certain politicians would still buy them the protection from competition CON laws afford them, and now they are boasting about North Carolina healthcare consumers’ loss as theur victory.
Last Friday the North Carolina Ambulatory Surgical Center Association, a statewide association that lobbies state government for continued protection, sent an email to members gloating that CON repeal language concerning surgery centers had been removed at their behest.
“Victory at the General Assembly!
NCASCA earned a hard-fought victory this week when the North Senate Health Committee agreed to remove CON repeal language from SB361. Members of our association came to Raleigh to speak against the repeal of CONS for ASCs in Senate Health Committee. Subsequently Senator Krawiec amended SB361 on the floor to take out ASCs from CON repeal. It passed and the bill is now in House Health Committee.
At the same time, NCASCA became aware that CON repeal for ASCs was put in HB126. Senator Perry was instrumental in taking it out in House Health Committee. The repeal of other groups including dialysis is still in that bill.
At this point in session, CON repeal seems unlikely given the active bills in consideration. However, this legislative session has highlighted the need to be vigilant and to educate legislators about ASCs.
NCASCA calls on members to get to know their state legislators, to host them at your center with a facility tour, and to meet with them at their offices in Raleigh. Also, encourage your physicians to contribute to the NCASCA PAC – remember personal check only.
The work has just begun!”
At first glance you might wonder why an association of ambulatory surgery centers would want to government to keep burdening their industry with arbitrary regulations that are antithetical to free markets and the benefits to they yield. However, when one realizes that the CON laws require healthcare providers that wish to open a new (and competing) surgery center to get permission from a state bureaucracy that is essentially in bed with the existing providers, it all makes sense.
It’s as if a few restaurateurs in a particular town banded together with politicians to outlaw new restaurants, unless those aspiring restaurant owners got permission from them all first. The existing cabal would never approve permits against their own interests, of course, and the result would be overpriced menus and ridiculous wait times. Would residents stand for that? Definitely not; so why do we tolerate a nearly identical practice of cronyism when it comes to the most important market we engage in?
Mostly because of ignorance do we let this go on, even as we point to the rising costs of healthcare across the Old North State, and significant accessibility problems in some parts of the state, as obvious pain points.
If we want to alleviate the rising costs of everything from outpatient surgeries, to dialysis, to a run of the mill MRI scan, voters must demand an end to this overbearing and counterproductive cronyism in North Carolina healthcare by repealing the CON laws and returning to the free market principles that informed the founding of this nation.
The lawmakers that kowtowed to the NCASCA are working directly against that result, and, thus, indirectly helping to keep healthcare prices skyrocketing and access dwindling. Again, these are Republicans standing in the way of free market solutions to some of North Carolinians biggest problems, choosing to help cronies instead.
You may want to ask your state representative or senator if they support CON repeal, and, if not, why they are so determined to keep medical price inflation so high?