The Certificate of Need Law (CON) is designed for one purpose only which is to protect local hospitals, ambulatory surgery centers and skilled nursing facilities from competition. The law was sold under the guise of providing quality healthcare at lower costs. Nothing could be further from the truth. The CON was designed to monopolize the local healthcare industry.

I have personally experienced the monumental amount of work that goes into the application process for a CON, not to mention the many thousands of dollars involving consulting and application fees alone. In addition, there are tremendous costs for architectural and engineering fees, in that complete architectural plans are required as part of the application. Once the application is submitted it becomes public record. Then locally affected facilities will fight “tooth and nail” to persuade the State Department of Health to deny the CON. Why? The reason is simple which is, they will have to compete against the incoming institution.

Will the abolishment of the CON promote a higher quality of care at a less cost? Absolutely it will. The idea that need should determine whether a business can locate based on whether it will take business away from an established business or negatively impact the collateral benefits of special interests, is ludicrous. Were it not for CON I would entertain the possibility of building an ambulatory surgery center in Colquitt County. With it, I would establish a multi-discipline physician group, build and staff a skilled nursing clinic where patients could receive care for up to five days for the appropriate scope of treatment our physicians would provide. Would it hurt Colquitt Regional Medical Center (CRMC)? Maybe it would; maybe it would not. I guarantee you that we would compete with CRMC or anyone else for the services provided. The intent would not be to hurt CRMC. Rather it would be to establish a free market competitive business. 

It is my view that abolishment of the CON law could reduce the cost of healthcare by 40 percent or more over a five year period. My premise is that the monopoly enjoyed by existing hospitals, ambulatory surgery centers and other skilled nursing facilities to charge what they please due to legal protection against competition would be over. They would have to compete. Translated, that is called free enterprise.

As I always say, my opinion and a buck 50 will buy you a cheap cup of coffee!

L.R. Dampier Jr.

Gallatin, Tenn.

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