CON Laws ‘Holding Back North Carolinians,’ Health Policy Expert Says | Beaufort County Now | Dr. Bruce Schroeder couldn’t give the best treatment to women with breast cancer. State regulations blocked him from buying up-to-date mammogram machines. | carolina journal, CON laws, health policy, health policy expert, state regulations, mammogram machines, february 2, 2021

Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)

CON Laws ‘Holding Back North Carolinians,’ Health Policy Expert Says

Publisher's Note: This post appears here courtesy of the Carolina Journal. The author of this post is Julie Havlak.

    Dr. Bruce Schroeder couldn't give the best treatment to women with breast cancer. State regulations blocked him from buying up-to-date mammogram machines.

    Under certificate-of-need laws, Schroeder had to get state permission before buying the machines. Schroeder couldn't afford to apply for a CON, so he had to buy refurbished equipment. He even spent tens of thousands of dollars avoiding CON laws — but then 3-D mammogram machines hit the market.

    He knew his patients needed them.

    But if he spent more than $500,000 on equipment, he would have to apply for a CON — and endure months of waiting, legal fees, and potential lawsuits from competitors. Critics say the process favors the richest hospital systems and crushes smaller providers' chances at competing.

    "I was nauseous just thinking about the legal process," Schroeder, medical director of Carolina Breast Imaging Specialists, said during a John Locke Foundation Shaftesbury event Monday, Feb.1. "It cost me tens of thousands of dollars to avoid the process. God knows what it would actually cost to go through it. I wanted to put the money into patient care, not checking boxes."

    There is an entire legal industry built up around CON laws, but Schroeder couldn't pay for a lawyer. He and his wife spent months applying for CON permission, and they got lucky.

    "If we really care about patients, that's who is affected the most, especially folks in lower-income areas who need care," said Jordan Roberts, John Locke Foundation government affairs associate. Roberts worked as Locke's health care policy analyst for 2 1/2 years. "It's become a corrupt system that's abused by a lot of folks."

    These laws have restricted patients' access to care in North Carolina for decades. CON laws aimed to suppress the cost of health care by limiting its supply. But that tactic backfired.

    CON laws left North Carolina unprepared for the coronavirus pandemic. CON laws restrict the number of hospital beds, weakening the state on a key measure for economic reopening, James Bailey, assistant professor of economics at Providence College, said during the virtual Shaftesbury event.

    States with CON laws have 30% fewer hospitals per capita, 13% fewer hospital beds, 14% longer emergency room wait times, and 3% higher spending, showed a study Bailey conducted for the John Locke Foundation.

    "They've made it harder to access health care," Bailey said. "Time matters. Weeks matter, months matter. It's even crazier now to make hospitals jump through all these hoops if they want to expand."

    The Shaftesbury event included Schroeder, Bailey, Roberts, and Troy Page, Blue Cross Blue Shield N.C. director of network contracting and strategic development.

    "Over the years, we've seen big changes with the affordability — or lack thereof — of care," Page said. "I think we're ready to support an immediate repeal of certificate of need."

    Page's support for repeal is a new development. Lawmakers have pushed to reform CON laws for years, but Blue Cross had previously avoided getting into the debate.

    "We believe it hurts patients, raises costs, erodes wages, makes it harder to provide health care," Roberts said. "It's holding back North Carolinians."


HbAD0

Latest Op-Ed & Politics

As the N.C. State Board of Education votes Thursday, March 4, to reopen schools, a far-left teachers’ union is trying to deny that children are suffering from learning loss.
Top aides of Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo reportedly pressured state health department officials to alter a report to remove the total number of nursing home residents who died from the coronavirus.
Group 4 vaccinations to begin March 24 for people who have a medical condition that puts them at higher risk or who live in certain congregate settings

HbAD1

Jim Geraghty of National Review Online notes a disturbing tendency among some political observers.
This article is dedicated to our great Founding Fathers - men who had the courage, the foresight, and the wisdom to secure the freedom that I exercise and enjoy every single day. - Diane Rufino
Exec. Order No. 200 Establishes Flexible Work Search Requirements to Help Bridge Employment Gap
This nearly one-third reduction of state debt frees up the General Funds budget for other priorities, as annual debt service payments become less burdensome.
Goldman Sachs announced on Thursday that it is setting a new goal to reach a carbon-emission level of net-zero by the year 2030.

HbAD2

A majority of North Carolina public school students failed to pass end-of-course tests in fall 2020, according to new data from the N.C. Department of Public Instruction.

HbAD3

 
Back to Top