Legislators Plan a Broad Revamp of State’s Powerful CON Laws

Year after year, the Georgia General Assembly deals with proposals to revise the state’s health care regulatory rules.
It’s always a contentious process, often pitting hospitals against one another. Even minor tweaks to the system typically get blocked before the end of the legislative session.
Come January, though, the state’s regulatory system, known as certificate of need (CON), could be due for a major overhaul, if not a full repeal.
The influential House Rural Development Council on Thursday announced recommendations for legislation in the upcoming General Assembly session. These ideas include replacing CON with an accreditation and “rigorous licensing system’’ for health care providers.
The current health care delivery system “must be revolutionized’’ to improve access to medical services, control costs and improve health outcomes for Georgians, said Rep. Terry England (R-Auburn), co-chairman of the council, at a meeting in Dahlonega.
The recommendations come at the same time the Trump administration is urging states to consider scaling back or repealing their CON laws, and is pushing back against hospital consolidation.
The CON process governs the construction and expansion of health care facilities and services. A provider must obtain a “certificate of need” (CON) to go forward with such a project. Such health care regulatory decisions have a big impact on communities and businesses.
Hospital groups have been strong defenders of the current CON system in Georgia, vigorously opposing any changes.
Georgia is one of the most restrictive states in its certificate-of-need laws, the Rural Development Council was told recently at a Statesboro meeting. Fifteen states have repealed their CON laws.
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