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COVID-19 exposed a tragic reality: America’s health care system is undermined by too much bureaucracy and red tape that prevents doctors, nurses, and medical researchers from helping people.
From the start, doctors and nurses were hamstrung by faulty tests, too few beds and ventilators, and delays in supplying protective gear. There weren’t enough medical professionals in the hardest hit areas.
Each of these problems was the result of some misguided policy that, until now, went unnoticed.
It’s imperative North Carolina fix its health care system so it’s better positioned to tackle future crises. Thankfully, the Tar Heel state doesn’t have to wait on Washington to usher in change. Here’s what the state can do to remove unnecessary barriers to quality care for patients.
Since 1971, North Carolina’s certificate-of-need law has required health care providers to ask permission from a state board before building new facilities, expanding existing facilities, or purchasing new equipment such as MRI machines.
When a potential new competitor applies to build a new facility, established hospitals routinely lobby the board to reject the application, arguing the community doesn’t need additional options.
The Mercatus Center estimates that our state’s CON law blocked 59 new hospitals and ambulatory surgery centers from opening.
Worst of all, 27 of these new facilities would have been built in rural areas, which face the greatest shortages.
Policymakers ought to reform this outdated law and give North Carolinians more options for quality care.
North Carolina has no laws defining what telehealth is or who is allowed to provide such care.
As a result, health professionals and insurers face enormous uncertainty over whether health care delivered remotely is legally permitted under state law.
With COVID-19 highlighting the importance of offering patients virtual alternatives to in-person doctor visits, it’s time make telehealth more accessible in our state.
Policymakers should make the following reforms to expand access to telehealth:
Expanding access to live-video telehealth would offer patients significantly more affordable care options. The average telemedicine consultation costs $40 to $50, while an in-person primary care visit costs $120 and an urgent care visit costs $175.
North Carolina laws and regulations prohibit trained medical professionals, like advanced practice registered nurses, from utilizing the full extent of their medical training unless they are under supervision of a physician, which is both costly and unnecessary.
In April, the North Carolina Board of Nursing issued a waiver to expand the availability of providers to address COVID-19. But the waiver upheld the state’s onerous requirement that they must work under a physician’s supervision through a mandatory collaborative practice agreement.
Lawmakers should repeal state requirements that mandate APRNs, physician assistants, and pharmacists to establish a collaborative agreement with physicians.
Ending these requirements would help patients and taxpayers spend less on health care. Experts estimate that rolling back barriers on nurses saves the average patient up to $493 in annual fees.
Now is the time to remove the barriers standing in the way of an improved health care system for all of us, and we invite you to join us in making that happen.
Sign our letter and tell North Carolina policymakers that it’s time to ensure that our families have access to the options we need.