The Georgia Supreme Court is pegged to review the state’s Certificate of Need Law (“CON law”), according to a report issued by the Atlanta Business Chronicle. The law places a restriction on competition in the healthcare industry, violating the state constitution’s anti-monopoly provision, according to a lawyer arguing the case before the state Supreme Court earlier this summer. The attorney belongs to a conservative legal advocacy group, Goldwater Institute, and noted that there is no health-care exception to the anti-monopoly clause. The CON law, he claims, discourages competition and encourages monopoly.
About the CON Law
The case involves two doctors who co-owned The Georgia Advanced Surgery Center for Women and who attempted to add a second operating room to their outpatient surgical center and contract with outside surgeons to use the space. When their CON was denied, they sued the Georgia Department of Community Health claiming the law violated the constitution.
The CON law mandates applicants show a need for new medical facilities or new health-care services in Georgia in order to obtain approval to move forward. The CON law was enacted in 1979 to comply with the federal requirement aimed at reducing costs by mitigating duplication of services and overbuilding. The federal mandate was dropped in 1986, but 35 states, including Georgia, still have CON laws on the books.
The CON law process has been controversial since its passage because hospitals have often used it to challenge the planned projects of their competitors. The CON law has also pitted doctors up against hospitals in fights over building surgery centers, not dissimilar to the current case at hand. Of note, single-specialty surgery centers such as those limited within one speciality for operations are exempt from the CON law. Physicians, however, have been trying to push for a similar exemption for multi-speciality surgery centers owned by doctors. Advocates claim that allowing this exemption would lower health-care costs for patients, insurers, and employers..
CON law opponents how have filed lawsuits have been unsuccessful in overturning the law. Likewise, Georgia lawmakers have repeatedly failed to repeal the law, but have not been able to secure enough votes to overcome the state’s hospital lobby.
Stay Up to Date
Those opposing CON law claim the law stifles an individuals’ ability to choose where they seek medical care and to select healthcare facilities they trust the most. It is important as legal practitioners to stay up-to-date with changes in the law and how it affects potential clients and your current cases. For more information and to understand CON law better, contact a knowledgeable Georgia attorney today.