Hooray! Doctor Suing State Over CON Laws

by Rob Roper

According to Reason Magazine, an Iowa eye doctor is suing that state over its Certificate of Needs (CON) laws. These idiotic laws require medical providers (surgical centers, emergency clinics, MRIs, home health, etc.) to apply for special permission from the government to set up shop. The process takes considerable time and money with no guarantee of success.

Vermonters should pay attention here because we have more CON laws than any other state in the Union. A group of investors desiring to open Green Mountain Surgery Center in Colchester, for example, has been trying to get a CON for two years. Hopefully this lawsuit can set a precedent for reform.

Dr. Lee Birchansky, bringer of the Iowa suit, says, “It is ridiculous that I have an outpatient surgery center that is already built, already equipped, and all ready to go, but I have been denied a certificate of need four times because established hospitals do not want competition.”

He is, of course, absolutely right. There is no reason beyond corporate cronyism for governments to prohibit businesses like these from hanging out a shingle. Markets should determine “need”, not bureaucrats or politicians kowtowing to hospitals interested in protecting their monopolies at the expense of patients.

Recent studies by the Mercatus Center of George Mason University determined that states with CON laws have higher healthcare costs, longer waiting times for procedures, and poorer overall outcomes.

EAI had advocated for the repeal of Vermont’s CON laws for years.

Rob Roper is president of the Ethan Allen Institute. 

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The Ethan Allen Institute is Vermont’s free-market public policy research and education organization. Founded in 1993, we are one of fifty-plus similar but independent state-level, public policy organizations around the country which exchange ideas and information through the State Policy Network.

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