February 23, 2017 9:30 AM
Georgia’s Certificate of Need (CON) law could receive a face lift this session as legislators debate SB 158. The bill introduced by Senator Watson has a hearing in the Senate Health & Human Services Committee this afternoon.
Georgia’s CON law is fairly restrictive. While the federal government repealed its CON law in 1986, prompting 15 states to repeal theirs, Georgia has protected our law with a vigor. While healthcare has changed, the state’s CON law has not. It’s time to modernize the law to keep up with the rapidly changing healthcare field and to create a free-market approach to healthcare.
First, let me say this: SB 158 does not eliminate CON. The legislation brings Georgia’s CON into the 21st century by lowering costs, expanding emergency care, spurring hospital investment, and attracting doctors to Georgia. It makes no sense to protect a law that discourages hospitals from investing in better facilities and new medical technologies. Georgia is a world class state; our hospitals should reflect that.
Another myth that should be dispelled is that this reform will harm rural hospitals. SB 158 removes any possibility that changes in this legislation threaten struggling rural hospitals. If a county is served by a single hospital with fewer than 100 beds, then that hospital would be protected by CON. Again, this legislation is about common sense solutions.
We’ve seen what the free-market can accomplish when people are empowered to make their own decisions. Healthcare is no exception. When people are given more options with better doctors and better facilities, we’ll see healthcare change in the patient’s favor. It’s common sense.