Virginia House Passes Healthcare Regulation Reform

Date: March 01, 2016 Last Edit: March 02, 2016

Bills could lower costs and increase competition.

Virginia House Passes Healthcare Regulation Reform

If approved, two bills recently passed by the Virginia House of Delegates would reform or mostly remove the state’s burdensome certificate of public need program.

Under Virginia’s current COPN regulation, hospitals and other healthcare providers must get state permission before opening up a facility or adding certain new equipment, such as MRI machines and imaging facilities. This ultimately prevents competition and raises healthcare costs for consumers. NFIB has been pushing for repeal of this regulation.

House Bill 193, which passed 52-46, would create a three-phase process to eliminate the need for a COPN for many healthcare facility and project categories. House Bill 350, which passed 94-4, would keep COPN in place for general hospitals while removing some other services and establish a faster timeline for reviewing applications.

According to a variety of studies, dismantling COPN will mean more choices and better prices for consumers. Research from Mercatus Center, for example, found that Virginia has roughly 10,800 fewer hospital beds, 41 fewer hospitals offering MRIs and 58 fewer hospitals offering CT scans under COPN regulations. An economic paper from Yale, Carnegie Mellon and the London School of Economics also found—after evaluating claims data from Aetna, Humana and UnitedHealth—that areas with just one hospital had healthcare rates 15.3 percent higher than areas with four or more hospitals.

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