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The House Heath Market Reform Subcommittee unanimously passed a proposed repeal of Florida’s certificate-of-need review program, which critics say allows hospitals, nursing homes and other health care providers to restrict patients’ access to competitively-priced medical services.
House Bill 21, sponsored by Rep. Heather Fitzenhagen, R-Fort Myers, was approved in a 14-0 vote Thursday. It next goes before the House Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee and Health & Human Services Committee.
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A similar Senate bill, SB 1712, sponsored by Sen. Gayle Harrell, R-Stuart, was filed March 1 but has not been assigned to committees yet.
Florida is one of 35 states that has adopted a Certificate of Need (CON) process to regulate the expansion of health care facilities to avoid the duplication of medical services within specific markets or areas.
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The process requires hospitals, nursing homes and other health care providers to demonstrate a "need" exists before expanding or offering new services.
Florida’s CON process governs new facility construction, new specialized hospital services, such as trauma services, and the number of inpatient beds at hospitals.
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Supporters maintain the review process ensures health services are available statewide. Without CONs, proponents say, hospitals in more populated, affluent areas would expand while those in rural areas would be further imperiled, reducing access for many people.
CON opponents argue that getting rid of the state’s CON process would encourage greater supply, competition and access, which would lower health care costs.
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A 2016 study by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University maintains that eliminating Florida’s CON laws "would decrease costs, increase access to care, and improve quality in the form of lower mortality rates and fewer post-surgery complications."
Adopted in 1973, Florida’s CON process has been amended twice. In 2008, the Legislature removed financial viability and cost criteria from the review, focusing it solely on need and access to services.
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Last year, the House passed HB...
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