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Florida legislature repeals CON laws

When Florida is in the news, it usually a national political story such as the Bush v. Gore recount from the 2000 election or something bizarre such as this recent story where police responded to a disturbance call and found an intoxicated gentleman who told police he was Jason Bourne.

However, Florida is in the news this week for a positive reason: the legislature repealed the state’s Certificate of need (CON) laws. From Drew Wilson at floridapolitics.com:

The House and Senate passed a bill Monday to repeal the state’s ‘certificate of need’ laws.

Certificate of need, or CON, laws regulate how many hospitals can be built and when, where and how they can operate.

HB 21 cleared the Senate with a 23-17 party-line vote Monday. An amendment by Stuart Republican Sen. Gayle Harrell kicked the bill back to the House, which passed it 83-34, also mostly along party lines.

The repeal is a top priority for House Speaker Jose Oliva.

“I’d like to thank President  Galvano, Chairman Bradley, Senators Bean and Harrell as well as Chairman Leek, and Representatives FitzenhagenYarborough, and Stevenson for months of hard work in getting these transformational policies across the finish line,” Oliva said in a Monday evening news release.

“Make no mistake these are monumental changes in how we deliver health care to Floridians. It’s time we got more cost effective coverage, more freedom and options, and more direct care. We will make these changes and reap the inevitable reward of the free market — lower costs and higher quality.”

Governor Ron DeSantis is expected to sign the bill into law which would make Florida the 16th state to repeal their Certificate of need laws. Certificate of need laws mandates that for hospitals or certain healthcare providers to build or expand facilities they must first obtain a permission slip from a state planning board that regulates the number of facilities in the state. By keeping the supply of healthcare artificially low, the state suppresses competition and prices are higher than they would typically be in a more free market.

North Carolina lawmakers have tried to repeal CON laws for several years with no success. North Carolina ranks near the top in terms of the number of facilities which to be built must be approved by the state. During the current legislative session, three different bills have been introduced to scale back the scope of the laws and allow more free access for private market participants to build healthcare facilities.

In the Senate, there is a complete CON repeal as part of a larger omnibus healthcare access bill (SB 361). Another Senate bill doesn’t go as far to repeal the entire law but would remove a significant number of facilities from the list if required facilities that need government permission slips to be built (SB 646). The House has introduced a bill to repeal the requirement for ambulatory surgery centers (HB 857).

Whether it’s a full repeal or incremental repeal of certain facilities, North Carolina lawmakers should follow the lead of Florida in this case and scale back the scope of a law that raises costs and limits access to affordable health care for North Carolinians.

Jordan Roberts / Health Policy Analyst

Jordan joined the Locke Foundation in the summer of 2018 as Health Care Policy Analyst. He analyzes state and national health policy issues with an eye toward removing governm...

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