Bob Fitzgerald: Eliminating CON not answer

December 9, 2013 

The Nov. 30 Point of View piece “CON-ning Americans out of health care” on Certificate of Need laws by Jordan Bruneau drew some very broad conclusions based on scant evidence. The only verifiable fact referenced was that average per capita health care costs are higher in CON states that in non-CON states. Interestingly, so are most other costs.

The average cost of living index in the non-CON states is 98.4 compared with an average of 104.86 in the CON states. North Carolina’s per capita health care costs of $6,444 is lower than the average of the non-CON states, which is $6,526. It is also lower than several of the non-CON states that have a lower cost of living index than North Carolina’s 95.6, including Indiana, Kansas and New Mexico.

The argument that competition will drive down health care costs implies that patients faced with troubling diagnoses shop for the cheapest cost of treatment. Most don’t and couldn’t if they wanted to because doctors and hospitals usually cannot tell how much treatment will cost without knowing all the specifics about the patient.

Rising health care costs are certainly a problem, but doing away with CON laws is not a panacea and may result in many unintended consequences.

Bob Fitzgerald, Raleigh

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