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House Votes To Dismantle Certificate Of Need Board

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The Certificate of Need Board approves new hospitals and expansions of existing medical centers in the state. Wednesday the house voted 166-140 to get rid of the board entirely. The House rejected an amendment which would have overhauled the existing board and phase it out over five years. The idea was to reconfigure the board with non-stakeholders, such as not allowing hospital representatives to serve.

Republican Representative Marilinda Garcia of Salem urged her colleagues to vote against the amendment which would have preserved the CON process. She cited studies that show CON boards do not help states save in healthcare costs, but do just the opposite.

"The CON laws have been ineffective at best, likely counterproductive, and at worst a serious impediment to optimum healthcare standards," says Garcia.

But supporters of the amendment to reconfigure the board say that the CON process actually prevents more expensive healthcare outlets from being built and therefore keeps costs down.

Republican State Senator Neal Kurk, who wrote the amendment, told house members that the state is not ready for a full on free market system of healthcare.

"The conditions in which a free market in healthcare simply do not occur at this time," says Kurk.

Kirk and other supporters of a CON overhaul hope the Senate will have enough votes to make that happen. In the meantime, supporters also believe that Governor Lynch, who has opposed hospital expansions in the past, would veto a repeal of CON.

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