The stated purpose of Kentucky’s CON program is to “improve the quality and increase access to health-care facilities, services, and providers, and to create a cost-efficient health-care delivery system for the citizens of the Commonwealth.” Five decades of research show that CON laws have not delivered on this promise.
Instead, incumbent providers use CON laws to block and delay their competitors from entering the market. And more broadly, exhaustive research shows that patients in states with CON laws have less access to care, the quality of the care is diminished, and that the costs of care are higher.
Some states repealed CON decades ago. Today, those states have more hospitals and more healthcare facilities per capita. Nationwide, states are recognizing that the gamble on CON laws has not paid off. Kentucky’s neighbors—Indiana and Ohio—repealed every CON law, except for nursing homes, many years ago. Other neighboring states—Tennessee and West Virginia—enacted recent reforms to give residents greater access to healthcare. And still others, like South Carolina and Montana, have said enough is enough. They repealed nearly all of their CON programs. The message is clear. To improve healthcare conditions in Kentucky, lawmakers should rethink CON.