Richmond, Va.—That is the question posed by a coalition of medical professionals in a major federal lawsuit filed in 2012 demanding that Virginia stop shutting out new medical services for no reason beyond protecting the profit margins of existing businesses. This past September, a federal judge upheld Virginia’s protectionist law without even hearing the doctors’ evidence. The argument in Richmond’s federal court of appeals will determine whether the lawsuit should be allowed to go forward.
*Institute for Justice attorneys will be available for individual interviews immediately following tomorrow morning oral argument.*
The target of the lawsuit is Virginia’s certificate-of-need program, which actually makes it illegal to offer new medical services or purchase certain types of medical equipment without first obtaining a special permission slip from the government. Under the program, licensed medical professionals who want to offer new services must first persuade government officials that their new service will be “needed”—and they must do so in a process that verges on full-blown litigation in which existing businesses are allowed to participate and oppose new competition. This process can take years and cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Frequently, the process results in new services being forbidden from operating at all.
The Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice have concluded that there is no evidence that these certificate-of-need programs have any public benefit, and found that they instead create anticompetitive protections for industry insiders.
For more on the lawsuit, visit www.ij.org/VACON. Founded in 1991, the Virginia-based Institute for Justice is a nation’s leading legal advocate for economic liberty.