CON law now coming under scrutiny in Georgia

South Carolina's sudden suspension of its certificate of need (CON) law may lead Georgia to follow suit, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

The Chronicle reported that a push is underway by a coalition of physicians who hold interests in ambulatory surgical centers to also suspend its CON law. "We expect CON actually to be right at the top our legislative agenda in 2014 in Atlanta," Kevin Bloye, spokesperson for the Georgia Hospital Association, told the Chronicle. "It's a hot-button issue everywhere. This is not unique to South Carolina."

South Carolina suspended its CON law last month after the state Legislature voted to suspend funding for program enforcement. Gov. Nikki Haley said the decision would allow free-market forces to prevail over regulations.

However, some Georgia hospital operators are uneasy with the notion of having CON suspended or eliminated. "It would have a significant adverse affect on all hospitals in the state," Dan Swetzer, vice president of marketing for Floyd Medical Center, told the Rome News-Tribune. Swetzer added that elimination of the CON law would pressure providers to focus on attracting insured patients to the exclusion of everyone else.

"Really, when you're talking about physicians who want to open these multispecialty outpatient surgery centers, they're going after one kind of patient, those with insurance," Bloye told the Chronicle. "They're not aiming for Medicaid recipients and uninsured patients. ... It's very difficult for hospitals to keep their doors open if only providing care to uninsured and Medicaid patients."

To learn more:
- read the Augusta Chronicle article
- check out the Rome News-Tribune article