In some late-breaking news, Florida Governor Charlie Crist has proposed repealing the state’s certificate-of-need (CON) law for acute-care hospitals to “increase competition and efficiency in the healthcare marketplace,” according to a plan included in the governor’s fiscal 2009 budget. The proposal suggests licensing as an alternative to Florida’s CON law, but provides few details.
Sounds good to me: CON laws do nothing to reduce the cost of health care, and have a host of negative, unintended consequences, as described in a chapter by Roy Cordato in a recent book I edited.
Truth be told, if I were advising Florida, CON is not the problem I’d put at the top of my list of anti-competitive barriers to good health care that the state had erected. Florida suffers from CON, but other states have it worse. Although many states are fortunate enough to be completely free of CON, of those that do still carry the burden, Florida is pretty much in the middle of the pack, according to the Index of Health Ownership, with Connecticut at the bottom of the barrel.
Florida’s bigger priorities, according to the Index, are the burden of mandates and regulation on private health insurance, nurse practitioner prescribing autonomy, and improving its medical-malpractice loss ratio.
Nevertheless, we congratulate the governor for taking an important step to increase his citizens’ health freedom. Let’s hope the legislature takes it up with enthusiasm.