Repealing Certificate of Need Laws: The Impact on Healthcare Access and Hospital Closures Revealed

Franklin, Tennessee – A recent opinion piece by Wendy Long argues against the repeal of Certificate of Need (CON) laws in Tennessee, claiming that it would lead to decreased access to healthcare. However, evidence suggests that repealing CON laws can actually increase accessibility. Under CON laws, healthcare facilities face barriers to opening or expanding, hindering competition and limiting options for patients.

Long and other CON law proponents assert that hospitals will close without the protection of CON laws, as new facilities could attract privately insured patients and leave existing hospitals with only uninsured or under-insured patients. However, real-world data disproves this claim. Research conducted in states without CON laws, where one-third of the U.S. population resides, reveals that these states actually have more hospitals and surgery centers per capita. This evidence holds true even when focusing on rural communities, debunking the argument that CON laws prevent “cherry-picking” of profitable areas.

Contrary to the notion that CON laws benefit underserved populations, a comprehensive review of academic studies on CON laws found no evidence that such laws improve care for these communities. In fact, the review highlighted that safety-net hospitals in states without CON laws had higher profit margins. These findings demonstrate that CON laws do not enhance access to care for those who need it most.

When considering the repeal of CON laws, it is crucial for policymakers to base their decisions on research rather than succumb to fearmongering from the beneficiaries of the current system. The focus should be on ensuring that healthcare is accessible and competitive, allowing for greater choice and quality of care.

In conclusion, the argument against the repeal of CON laws in Tennessee rests on unfounded claims. Data from states without CON laws shows that accessibility to healthcare actually improves without these restrictions. Policymakers should prioritize evidence-based decision-making to create a healthcare system that truly benefits patients and ensures their access to quality care.