Phillip Suderman · August 10, 2023

ARLINGTON, Va.—A new report, released today, focuses on the history of certificate of need (CON) laws in Kentucky and the effects they’ve had on healthcare access, costs, and outcomes. The findings of the report, titled Striving for Better Care: A Review of Kentucky’s Certificate of Need Laws, show that CON laws have a negative effect on health care in the state and urges removing the laws from the books altogether. This report comes as the Kentucky General Assembly has created a special task force to study the issue.

“Fifty years of studies demonstrate that CON laws simply don’t work as intended,” said IJ Attorney Jaimie Cavanaugh. “The healthcare system has changed drastically over the last 50 years, yet CON laws remain the same. It’s time to repeal these regressive policies that decrease access to care and give Kentuckians the healthcare system they deserve.”

The report points to three areas where CON laws are having a detrimental effect on state health care:

  1. CON laws contribute to lower quality care and worse healthcare outcomes.
  2. CON laws lead to higher healthcare spending.
  3. CON laws decrease access to healthcare.

The report analyzed 128 papers which contained more than 400 tests on the outcomes of CON laws. The findings are overwhelming. Negative results are five times (500%) more common than positive results. The negative results clearly demonstrate that CON laws are bad for patients, bad for payors, bad for improving access to care (including rural care), bad for vulnerable populations, bad for mortality rates for common conditions, and bad for health care innovation.

From a national perspective, Kentucky joins a trend of states that have either seriously reviewed or ended their CON laws. Indiana and Ohio repealed nearly every CON law on their books years ago; Tennessee and West Virginia have also enacted recent reforms to give residents greater access to health care. Montana and South Carolina have also recently repealed all CON laws except for nursing homes.

Related Reports

Striving for Better Care

Economic Liberty | Health

Striving for Better Care

A certificate of need (CON) is a government mandated permission slip that a provider must get before opening a healthcare facility or adding new services. CON laws began as an experiment to reduce government expenditures…