Certificate of Need program in Senate's crosshairs - SaintPetersBlog

Certificate of Need program in Senate’s crosshairs

On Friday, Florida State Sen. Rob Bradley filed a bill to repeal the state’s controversial Certificate of Need program. And Gov. Rick Scott supports the measure.

Senate Bill 676 would eliminate the Certificate of Need (CON) Program at the Agency for Health Care Administration.

Currently, health care providers require a certificate of need prior before building or converting hospitals, nursing homes, and hospices.

Under Bradley’s bill, the Agency for Health Care Administration would develop licensure rules for new providers, and sets guidelines for the licensure of hospitals and hospice facilities.

Bradley, a traditional free-market conservative, believes that competition will help reduce health care costs for consumers.

“By eliminating the state’s restrictive CON process we’ll increase competition and drive down the cost of health care for Floridians,” said Senator Bradley. “For years, this cumbersome process has been used to block the expansion of facilities and restrict competition. So, in addition to driving costs, we should also see a significant economic impact in terms of the creation of new jobs by removing this barrier.”

Gov. Scott, who has been focused on health care cost reform throughout his tenure, backs this play.

“I’ve traveled across our state and spoken with Floridians who have been charged unconscionable prices for procedures. This session, I want to fight to make the healthcare system fair for families and ensure health care works for patients and not for hospitals’ bottom lines. I look forward to working with Senator Bradley to champion this legislation as we continue to help bring greater access, quality, transparency and fairness to patients,” Gov. Scott asserted.

Steering policy in this model: local health councils, which would be selected regionally and would have carve out membership requirements ensuring that all counties in a given area have a say, and ensuring that seniors are represented on the councils.

These panels would provide guidance, and serve as an intermediary between local and state governmental concerns.

These councils would be paid for via assessments on licensed medical facilities, including such as hospices and abortion clinics.

Hospitals, nursing homes, and hospices would pay a fee per bed; other facilities would get a flat rate cost of $150 per annum.

Bradley is making a number of strategic, big picture plays that speak to a larger understanding of collaboration this session.

An example of such: his introduction of a bill Senate President Joe Negron backs, to bond out $1.2 million (a number matched by federal funds) for a reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee, right around the time he requested $45 million of Amendment 1 funds for the Keystone Lakes and the St. Johns River.

With the governor’s backing and a powerful sponsor moving against it in the Florida Senate, this may be the year the Certificate of Need program finally goes away.

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A.G. Gancarski has written a weekly column for Jacksonville’s Folio Weekly since 2003. His writings on politics, culture, and sport have appeared in the Washington Times, the Daily Caller, and the American Conservative. His radio and TV appearances include frequent contributions to WJCT-FM (Jacksonville’s Public Radio station); additionally, he has been a guest on Huff Post Live and the Savage Nation radio show. Gancarski can be reached at a.g.gancarski@gmail.com.
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