A legislative audit released earlier this year encouraged lawmaker to get rid of the state’s certificate of need process. A Certificate of Need is essentially approval from the state to open a new hospital, clinic or health related facility. Senators have introduced bills to get rid of the process, but delegates are trying to save it.
More than 30 states have a Certificate of Need process like West Virginia. It’s meant to prevent the inflation of health care costs by limiting the services provided in a geographic area based on need.
Two bills have been introduced into the Senate this session to completely remove the certificate of need process, eliminating the West Virginia Health Care Authority, but in the House members are attempting to clean up the certificate process through House Bill 2459.
Delegate Matthew Rohrbach, a Republican from Cabell County, is a sponsor of the bill. As a doctor, Rohrbach says he understands that getting rid of the process might increase competition in the healthcare system in West Virginia.
“Some states have done away with CON that are bordering us," Rohrbach said, "and unfortunately that’s created an unfair advantage for some of our border states against our local hospitals that are providing care to our patients and they’re employing our citizens."
Rohrbach says, though, other states that have gotten rid of the approval process have faced challenges too.
“In Pennsylvania in particular, they’ve had a lot of problems when they’ve dropped their CON, with the expansion of services, volume has went down, and they’ve had some quality problems.”
Both of the Senate bills to repeal the certificate of need process are sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Ryan Ferns, a physical therapist and business owner from the northern panhandle. While neither of the Senate bills have been considered by the Senate’s Health and Human Resources Committee yet, Del. Rohrbach calls the House bill a fair compromise that balances healthcare access for rural communities with the quality of service provided.
House bill 2459 passed 98 to 1 Monday and moves on to the Senate.