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Killing CON: Pull the plug now
The New Hampshire House of Representatives acted responsibly this spring in passing a bill to eliminate New Hampshire’s Certificate of Need (CON) law. So why did the Senate mess that up by voting to keep the useless law for another five years?
Under the CON law, medical care providers must get state permission before offering expensive new products or services. Proponents of the process claim that its purpose is to keep health care costs down. It does not do that, though.
A Federal Trade Commission study back in 1998 found that CON laws don’t keep costs down. A 2004 study by the FTC and the U.S. Justice Department concluded that “on balance, CON programs are not successful in containing health care costs, and that they pose serious anticompetitive risks that usually outweigh their purported economic benefits.”
The reason for those conclusions is obvious. CON laws prevent competitors from entering the health care market for high-cost products and services.
Recognizing that, the House passed House Bill 1617 to repeal New Hampshire’s CON process. Last week the Senate passed the bill, but only after amending it to push back the repeal for five years. The Senate version also kept the current composition of the CON board, which is the board tasked with approving or disapproving CON submissions. Sitting on the board are a lot of health care industry executives whose companies benefit from the current CON process.
The public will be better served if the conference committee approves the House version of HB 1617. We already know that CON laws hurt consumers by increasing prices and limiting services. We don’t need to wait five years to end that terrible practice in New Hampshire.
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