Kentucky Rep. Marianne Proctor (R-Union) will address the Covington Board of Commissioners at the city’s legislative meeting on Sept. 26 on laws surrounding medical certificate of need in Kentucky.
Medical certificate of need laws require that Kentucky healthcare institutions providing certain services must first prove a communal need for such services before establishing facilities in an area. They are issued by the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services, and there are currently 21 medical services that require a certificate of need, according to Kentucky’s state health plan.
Proctor had introduced legislation during the last session to repeal certificate of need, but the bill failed to pass. After the session concluded, the legislature established a task force on certificate of need to assess if the laws were necessary or worthy of reform. Proctor sits on the task force.
Proponents of certificate of need laws claim that medical markets can become over-saturated in the absence of this type of regulation. They also argue that certificate of need laws make it easier for rural communities, where it’s difficult for hospitals to turn a profit, to maintain access to a medical safety net.
On the other hand, opponents of certificate of need claim that it adds an extra layer of bureaucracy to an already administratively top-heavy sector. Additionally, opponents argue that certificate of need requirements provide a mechanism by which large healthcare organizations can establish monopoly power over particular regions.
The issue is particularly salient to Northern Kentucky, and conversations surrounding the regulations often zero in on St. Elizabeth Healthcare, one of the largest healthcare providers in the tri-state, which some have characterized as a monopoly that uses certificate of need to secure its market share. St. Elizabeth itself challenges this characterization.
Certificate of need is a frequent topic of debate among state and local officials. Sen. Shelley Funke Frommeyer (R-Alexandria), for instance, recently spoke to the certificate of need task force about the effects of certificate of need on the potential for freestanding birth centers in the commonwealth.
Furthermore, debates over the laws have already occurred publicly in Kenton County. Earlier this year, Proctor visited the Erlanger City Council, where she shared her views on the laws and floated the idea of a city resolution to support reform. The subsequent meeting saw representatives from St. Elizabeth and other medical institutions as well as political groups, crowd into the Erlanger council chambers, where they debated the necessity of the laws. The Erlanger City Council eventually cast a 6-3 vote in favor of reform. Fort Wright has also voted to support reform.
The meeting will take place on Sept. 26 at 6 p.m. at Covington City Hall on Pike Street. It will include time for public comment.
Read LINK nky’s coverage of the certificate of need state task force as well as other stories related to healthcare here.