Certificate of Need laws, or CON laws as they are often known, require new healthcare businesses and expansions of existing healthcare businesses to go through a regulatory process proving that the market “needs” them. These laws effectively stifle competition and innovation and lead to higher costs for patients in an already highly regulated and expensive industry. Several Atlas Network partner organizations have produced work highlighting the problems with CON laws and outlining positive steps that lawmakers could take. One such partner, Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF), has been crucial in the rising effort to dismantle these harmful and anti-market regulations.
The COVID-19 pandemic made the effort against CON laws even more urgent. Even before the pandemic, Pacific Legal Foundation was targeting CON laws, and the situation has provided them with new opportunities to do that. PLF has held several events to call attention to CON laws. They worked with the Mercatus Center at George Mason University to hold an online event titled “Policy Summit on the Future of CON Laws;” Anastasia Boden, a senior attorney at PLF, participated in a panel discussion with Cardinal Institute for West Virginia Policy to jumpstart reform in the Mountain State; and PLF hosted a policy discussion on CON laws at State Policy Network’s Annual Meeting, putting the topic in front of civil society organizations from all over the United States.
Opening the reform discussion is an essential first step, but PLF has already achieved concrete change as well. A legislator in Montana drew on PLF’s research and advocacy to pass a bill repealing transportation CON laws in their states. On their recommendation, the governor of Florida suspended ambulance Certificate of Need laws during the pandemic. The organization has also launched a legal challenge to a medical CON law in Louisiana that has prevented their client from opening a business providing services to low-income families with special-needs children. That trial is scheduled for November 2021. Between these early successes and the thousands of people who have been reached by PLF’s messaging and research, the organization is poised to have a major impact across the United States.
Certificate of Need laws are anti-competitive, hurting consumers and providers alike. The work of PLF to remove them will make a real difference in the day-to-day lives of Americans.
Atlas Network supported this initiative with grant funding.