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Americans for Prosperity-Florida State Director Skylar Zander | News-Press
Imagine you want to open a small music shop, but the state tells you that first you need to do a detailed economic analysis to determine if you can afford to stock your shop with instruments. Or you want to start a lighting business, but the government insists on a study showing how your enterprise will impact other lighting stores in the community.
If this sounds like unnecessary government regulation, you’re right. Now, consider the burden on hospitals and other health care facilities, which have been struggling for decades under a bureaucratic requirement called “Certificate of Need” (CON). Under CON, new providers had to prove that their move into a region wouldn’t oversaturate it or create an excessive burden for existing providers. But CON also creates artificial barriers that protect the fiefdoms of existing providers and allow them to maintain the bare minimum – no worry that a competitor might swoop in and provide a better service.
In reality, this costly and time-consuming CON process has limited the number of health care options available to Florida consumers, even as the state’s population continues to grow at a rapid pace.
Fortunately, in recent years, the Florida Legislature has made significant improvements in reforming the CON process. However, the state can’t afford to take its foot off the gas in working to ensure a free and open health care system for all.
State leaders have prioritized CON reform in the past. In 2019, lawmakers wisely eliminated requirements for a CON before a facility could establish acute care at a hospital and before providing “tertiary” services. Two years later, they eliminated certain requirements for several classes of hospitals, including children’s and women’s hospitals, specialty medical, rehabilitation, and psychiatric and substance abuse hospitals, and those offering intensive residential treatment for children.
These changes were steps in the right direction, but many onerous CON requirements still remain in Florida. Our state continues to utilize CON for rehabilitation centers and hospice services, which presents a lasting challenge to ensuring that our health care system is as free as it can be.
As the 2023 legislative session approaches, lawmakers must repeal CON requirements for the remaining facilities burdened under them. These requirements are a substantial barrier to freedom in health care that results in higher health care costs, reduced access to important medical services, and worse patient outcomes.
Fixing health care should be about making its services more affordable, accessible, and of better quality. CON laws wrap necessary changes in the health care system in red tape, halting progress for both health care providers and patients.
It’s time we get rid of the government permission slip and step into the promise of making Florida’s health care system as free as it can be.
Skylar Zander is the Florida director of Americans for Prosperity-Florida.
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