JLF’s Katherine Restrepo has written extensively about North Carolina’s Certificate of Need law, which forces hospitals and doctor groups to apply for and receive a state government permission slip before adding new services and/or equipment such as surgical beds, MRI machines, etc. The state has wrongly determined that government officials should decide whether or not North Carolinians are given access to innovations and better services. It’s an antiquated policy that many states have repealed.
This story illustrates the real-world application of the “CON” law. Both Duke University Health System and UNC Hospitals have applied for state “permission” to offer patients a cancer treatment known as proton therapy. Now they wait — and so do North Carolinians who could benefit from this treatment — to see which entity the state deems worthy of offering the treatment. One? Both? Who knows. As the story points out, the John Locke Foundation does indeed believe Certificate of Need law is poor policy. From the story:
The certificate of need process has been a fixture of health-care regulation in North Carolina for years, on the theory that the state needs to keep a rein on hospital capital expenses that could wind up inflating medical bills regardless of whether the market can sustain them.
Conservative groups like the raleigh-based John Locke Foundation have attacked them as an unnecessary constraint on the medical trade.