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AFP-WV Key Vote Alert: Support HB 4013 repeal of archaic certificate of need laws

Jan 28, 2022 by AFP

On behalf of Americans for Prosperity West Virginia and our activists across the state, I urge you to support House Bill 4013, which would repeal West Virginia’s detrimental certificate of need laws. We may include these votes in our 2022 legislative scorecard.

Certificate of need (CON) laws were meant to keep health care costs under control by artificially limiting the supply of services. But, as decades of data demonstrates the CON experiment has not only completely failed, but it has directly resulted in more expensive, less available, and lower quality health care.

CON does not contemplate health care quality or standards. Instead, it is a permission slip from a government board that our hometown health care providers must receive if they wish to open new health care services or expand an existing service. This means that unelected bureaucrats, some of whom have a vested interest in limiting competition in the market, can arbitrarily deny our trusted health care providers from meeting needs they see in their communities. In addition, CON allows existing medical competitors to object to new services, weeding out market competition through a kind of “good old boy” system of central planning. This is failed big government central planning at its worst and, in a state were 53 out of 55 counties have health care shortages, blocking or slowing down additional care is unacceptable.

In West Virginia, CON has blocked 27 new hospitals and ambulatory surgery centers, 2,424 additional hospital beds, up to 7 MRIs, and 16 additional CT scan machines. Research from the Mercatus Center at George Mason University indicates that, “there are 30 percent fewer total hospitals per capita in states with a CON program when compared to those that do not have a CON program,” and that, “CON programs do not protect access in rural health care markets.”

In addition to limited access to care, with less competition, there is less incentive for existing health care providers to provide innovative, affordable, quality health care. National statistics show individuals suffering from pneumonia, heart attacks, and heart failures are more likely to die in states with CON barriers. States with CON laws have five percent higher per-capita health care costs. In instances where CON laws only allow for one hospital provides services to an area, patients are forced to pay fifteen percent higher prices for care.

During the pandemic, 24 out of 35 states with CON laws rightly suspended them via executive orders in order to help medical providers have the flexibility they needed to respond to the public health crisis, saving lives. Sadly, states that enforced CON laws during that time, including West Virginia, experienced 100 additional deaths for every 100,000 residents. Even now, our hospitals are facing crowding but are unable to act quickly to adapt due to CON barriers holding them back.

No wonder the Federal Trade Commission, under both democrat and republican administrations, have strongly urged states to repeal their CON laws. The American Medical Association has also advocated to repeal CON, which they portray as, “anticompetitive and a barrier to entry…susceptible to abuse by creating opportunities for anticompetitive behavior.”

HB 4013 would end this outdated and detrimental practice, providing the flexibility that our trusted medical providers deserve while opening up more high-quality health care access at a more affordable cost for every West Virginian.

I urge you to support House Bill 4013, Repealing West Virginia’s harmful certificate of need laws. We may include these votes in our 2022 legislative scorecard.