Certificate Of Need Repeal Teed Up In The House

Mar 15, 2019

A House panel on Thursday approved a proposed repeal of the state’s certificate of need program for hospitals, nursing homes and hospices. 

The bill (HB 21) is a priority for House Speaker Jose Oliva. Just hours after it cleared the House Health & Human Services Committee, it was placed on a list of bills that will be considered by the full House on Wednesday.

The Senate Health Policy Committee is scheduled Monday to take up a certificate of need measure (SB 1712). The bills are not identical, and Senate President Bill Galvano has made clear he doesn’t endorse the complete elimination of the regulatory program, as the House bill would do.

The so-called CON program has long been controversial. Hospitals, nursing homes and hospice providers need to receive certificates of need before they can move forward with building projects and many new services.

Oliva and other House Republican leaders say the state should take a more free-market approach to health care. Debate in the House committee Thursday centered on the elimination of the CON program for hospice providers.

Paul Ledford, president and chief executive officer of the Florida Hospice & Palliative Care Association, said the program ensures that all areas of the state have access to hospice services, not just cities, where the care is more profitable.

“If hospice certificate of need is repealed, market chaos will ensue,” Ledford said. “And hospice, as you know it in Florida, will, over time, permanently and irreversibly change. And it won’t be something that you’ll be proud of.”