Tallahassee, Fla.—Today, the Florida House and Senate each passed HB 21, legislation that would eliminate the requirement that a general hospital obtain a certificate of need (CON) before being allowed to open. The bill now heads to the governor for signature. CON laws limit medical establishments by requiring the government to first determine whether services are needed before a new provider can enter the market. Large, existing facilities use CON laws to stifle competition and maintain monopolies in their communities. Under the new legislation, the CON requirements to open a new hospital in Florida would be eliminated by 2021.
The Institute for Justice (IJ) has filed suits challenging CON laws on behalf of doctors in Virginia, Iowa and North Carolina. IJ Florida Office Managing Attorney Justin Pearson testified in favor of the bill and applauds its passage:
“If you could do just one thing to simultaneously improve the quality of health care, improve access, and reduce cost, it would be to repeal all certificate of need laws. In every category, the states without CON laws are doing better than the states with them. Whether it is better services for disadvantaged communities, lower mortality rates, lower infant mortality rates—you name it, and the states without CON laws are better, while also being less expensive.
“Studies have been conducted, and the results are clear. There is no legitimate argument for keeping CON laws. The only thing CON laws do is give powerful hospitals veto power over their competition. When political insiders are able to veto competition, it’s the public that loses. Quite simply, CON laws should not exist.”
Pearson also emphasized that this bill is merely a good first step, as it unfortunately leaves some other CONs in place for now. “Although this is a good bill and should be celebrated, we will not stop fighting until all of the Sunshine State’s CONs have been repealed.”