A bill that would exempt "legacy" medical care facilities from acquiring a Certificate of Need to operate has cleared the Senate and is heading to the House. An amendment to clarify the definition is credited with exempting the hospital in Belhaven.
Some additional background via the Statesville News & Record
Health care company Vidant Health took over the Pungo Hospital in 2011 but closed it on July 1, 2014 in part due to operating losses and the hospital's aging building.
Vidant is now building an around-the-clock health facility, but it's not considered a hospital, which Belhaven Mayor Adam O'Neal and others say is needed for critical, emergency care now lacking between Beaufort County and the Outer Banks.
A nonprofit formed to reopen the hospital has been approved for a $6 million federal rural development loan provided in part there is a certificate of need — a state document affirming the hospital's necessity. The document wouldn't be necessary for an "existing hospital."
The certificate of need "is holding us up and stopping us from saving lives," O'Neal told the committee, adding "the bureaucrats in Raleigh are stopping us from opening our hospital up and it's wrong and we need some help."
O'Neal said in an interview hospital supporters believe they don't need a new certificate of need because the hospital had previously been open for more than 60 years. The process also would take a year and cost $500,000, and likely would be opposed by Vidant, the mayor said.
All this begs the question: why is all this necessary? Why does North Carolina continue to have restrictive, anti-competitive, bureaucratic CON laws on its books?
Its time to repeal these CON laws, which serve to drive up health care costs, bog down medical facilities in red tape, and restrict access to medical care.