State government needs to step out of the way so Iowans can receive quality healthcare when and where it is required.
An unnecessary state regulation has had a significant impact on the number of hospital beds available during this time of crisis. The approval process called Certificate of Need (CON) forces health care providers to complete an approval process before expanding services. Iowa is one of 35 states with this requirement and has fewer hospital beds than states without CON.
This regulation is not like other state regulations. CON does not evaluate competency or increase safety.
However, a Mercatus Center article cites studies showing CON laws are lead to higher costs and lower-quality care and are associated with:
- fewer hospitals per capita
- fewer ambulatory surgery centers per capita
- fewer rural hospitals per capita
- fewer rural ambulatory surgery centers per capita
- fewer hospital beds per capita
- fewer hospice care facilities
- fewer dialysis clinics
- fewer hospitals offering MRI, CT, and PET scans
- longer driving distances to obtain care
- greater racial disparities in the provision of care
The same Mercatus Center article states, “Healthcare providers in states that eliminated their CON programs years or even decades ago have more beds than non-CON states, are in a better position to quickly obtain new beds, and may quickly reallocate existing ones to the areas where they are needed most.”
Governor Reynolds made an excellent decision to suspend Iowa’s CON regulation in her Public Health Emergency Declaration. When this crisis is over, legislators should eliminate CON permanently. State government needs to step out of the way so Iowans can receive quality healthcare when and where it is required.