Certificate-of-need laws stifle health care cost competition

LETTER — Posted March 21, 2005

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Regarding "Cutting through the CONfusion: Movement to relax the limits" (Article, Feb. 7): Many thanks for the article on the certificate-of-need process. It is required in Florida, which is where I live. I have written the governor and others trying to eliminate this bureaucratic nightmare, but there is no public awareness or outcry for change.

It is because of CON that we have fewer hospitals and hospital beds in our area. Instead of decreasing the cost of a hospital bed or service, CON has rendered a virtual monopoly to the CON winner by denying any real competition.

If we had more hospital beds and emergency rooms, we would be getting better and faster service at a more cost-effective rate because of competition. In a monopoly, the only winner is the holder of the CON. It makes no sense to limit the number of nursing homes, diagnostic centers, surgery centers or cardiac cath labs, because more of them will increase competition and provide better care.

I know it takes great courage and insight to remove a government institution, but I wish our legislators had some political incentive to remove the CON process in Florida. Let's reduce the cost of health care by good old-fashioned competition instead of paying 16% per annum increases because there is no real competition.

We have not limited the number of large box discount stores in our area, and they are the providing the most products at the least price. Why can't we let market competition bring our expensive medical house in order? Get rid of certificate-of-need regulation as soon as possible.

William V. Choisser, MD, Orange Park, Fla.

Note: This item originally appeared at http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2005/03/21/edlt0321.htm.

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