Little-Known State Laws Are Hurting Patients and Making Hospitals Worse






More than five decades have passed since New York state first enacted something called a certificate-of-need law (CON) in an effort to curb rising health care costs. Such laws, now enforced in 35 states and the District of Columbia, require providers to first seek permission from their state’s government before opening a new practice, expanding services and making certain investments in devices and medical technology. In short, they force would-be competitors in the health care sector to get a permission slip to do what they’re trained to do.

It has become increasingly clear that these laws have failed to achieve their goal. And if that isn’t enough reason to be skeptical, we are now beginning to understand the real effect they have on the provision of health care in America. It isn’t pretty: CON laws may be diminishing hospital quality, and even raising death rates in some cases. […]