Virginia hospital execs want CON to stay in place

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Hospital.

Virginia's top hospital executives say that federal laws regarding the treatment of patients means their businesses operate differently than others, and as a result, some state laws should remain in place.

“We’re fundamentally different. You’re not going to get a highway construction firm to build the state’s highways (for less than) what it costs them,” James B. Cole, chief executive officer of Virginia Hospital Center told Virginia Business. “We care for anyone whether they can pay a nickel or not, and that’s not standard in the business world.”

As a result, Cole and other hospital executives say that Virginia's Certificate of Need law should remain on the books. They fear repealing of that law would allow other healthcare operators to cherry-pick patients.

Certificate of need helps to distribute services evenly and the law protects organizations that have a high amount of charity care or high number of Medicaid patients, Mary Mannix, CEO of Augusta Health, told the publication. “It protects those organizations from losing those services that offset those that are reimbursed below cost.”

Certificate of Need laws are on the books in 36 states and the District of Columbia. Opponents of such laws say they're anti-competitive, although proponents say they ensure certain healthcare services remain widely available. Such laws are under attack in some states such as South Carolina, which like Virginia has a Republican-dominated Legislature.

The executives also said they would like Medicaid eligibility to be expanded under the Affordable Care Act. Virginia has yet to do so.