Mississippi’s Certificate of Need laws: Hindrance to healthcare progress

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Starla Brown, AFP-MS State Director

  • Starla Brown says it’s time for policymakers in Mississippi to recognize the detrimental effects of CoN laws and take bold steps towards their repeal.

In the world of healthcare policy, the intentions behind laws and regulations are often good, aimed at improving access to quality care and protecting patients. However, policies implemented for the best reasons can have bad results. Certificate of Need (CoN) is a great example of a policy which, while instituted with good intentions, has now become a barrier to effective healthcare delivery, particularly in the realms of cost, access, and addiction recovery.

CoN laws were initially implemented to regulate healthcare facility expansion and medical equipment acquisition. The idea was to prevent unnecessary duplication of services, control healthcare costs, and ensure that healthcare resources were allocated efficiently. However, the reality in Mississippi, as in many other states, tells a different story.

First, CoN laws have contributed to inflated healthcare costs. By limiting competition and innovation, these laws create monopolistic environments that drive up prices for medical services and procedures. In essence, they stifle competition rather than encouraging efficiency and cost-effectiveness. As a result, patients and insurers end up paying more for healthcare services than they should, putting unnecessary strain on already burdened healthcare budgets.

A study recently done by economist James Bailey shows repealing CoN laws could have huge cost saving potential. His research suggests that without CoN laws, Mississippi could see a 16.8 percent reduction in Medicaid spending, a 14.9 percent reduction in Medicare spending, and a 7.4 percent reduction in total health care spending.

Even more, without these laws in place, research shows Mississippians could save, on average, up to $400 annually, or 5.3 percent of health spending as a share of income. This represents a significant opportunity for our state as we work to increase the affordability of care.

At Americans for Prosperity-Mississippi, we believe CoN laws impede access to quality healthcare. By restricting the establishment of new healthcare facilities and the acquisition of medical equipment, these laws limit options for patients, particularly those in rural or underserved areas.

This lack of competition and choice not only affects the affordability of care but also impacts the quality and variety of services available. Patients may have to travel long distances to access specialized care or face long wait times for essential treatments, leading to worsened health outcomes and unsatisfied patients.

Mississippi’s outdated CoN laws are also a significant hindrance to developing a robust addiction recovery system. As we’re facing a national opioid crisis and rising rates of substance abuse, it’s crucial we expand access to addiction treatment services. However, CoN laws often stand in the way of establishing new addiction treatment facilities or expanding existing ones.

This limits the availability of critical services such as detoxification programs, counseling, and medication-assisted treatment, leaving many individuals struggling with addiction without the support they desperately need.

Mississippi’s CoN laws today are not fulfilling their intended purpose and have instead become obstacles to progress in healthcare delivery. Removing these regulations is essential to fostering competition, reducing costs, improving access to care, and expanding addiction treatment services. By embracing a more flexible and market-driven approach to healthcare, Mississippi can pave the way for a healthier and more prosperous future for its residents.

It’s time for policymakers in Mississippi to recognize the detrimental effects of CoN laws and take bold steps towards their repeal. By doing so, they can unleash the full potential of the state’s healthcare system, ensuring that all Mississippians have access to affordable, high-quality care when they need it most. The health and well-being of the people should always be the top priority, and removing barriers to healthcare access is an important step towards achieving that goal.


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