(The Center Square) — The first meeting of a Georgia committee exploring whether to abolish the state’s Certificate of Need requirement for hospitals and health care facilities didn’t yield information about the mandate’s benefits, the committee’s chair said.
The Senate Study Committee on Certificate of Need Reform is exploring whether lawmakers should change or abolish the state’s program.
“One major takeaway from this first meeting was the glaring lack of information on the success of CON programs nationwide,” state Sen. Greg Dolezal, R-Cumming, said in a statement.
“I hope that we are able to bridge this gap in information to better understand and compare the benefits and shortcomings of such programs,” Dolezal added. “This was a very impactful and eye-opening first meeting, and I am hopeful that by the end of this year we can come to a consensus that benefits our citizens’ health and well-being first.”
CON laws emerged in the 1970s after Congress passed legislation allowing the federal government to withhold funds from states that did not establish the mandate. While Congress repealed the federal incentives for CONs about a decade later, officials said the Peach State is one of 34 nationwide with such a requirement.
“The effectiveness of CON laws should be really measured by their outcomes, not by their intended goals,” Thomas Stratmann, a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center and economics professor at George Mason University, told the committee. “Even the best-intended laws might not lead to the desired result and might yield unintended consequences.
“…It turns out that states with CON laws have less patient access to medical care, lower quality of medical services,” Stratmann added. “Also, in this context, it’s important … to note that CON laws do not have any public health justification. That is, CON requirements have nothing to do with public health or safety. So, the data show fewer hospitals in CON states than in states without CON.”
By T.A. DeFeo | The Center Square contributor