Economics and Environment: NC CON Law Is Central Planning Beyond Bernie’s Wildest Dreams

If you are a health care provider and you want to do anything from adding a new wing or extra beds to a hospital, to opening an office that offers MRI, X-ray or other services, you need a “Certificate of Need” (CON) from the state. The process of obtaining this certificate is onerous and expensive (money that would otherwise be going to providing patient services) and at the end of the day the request is probably just as likely to be denied as approved. All of this comes with its own socialist style central planning board called the state Health Planning Development (HPD) agency. When it comes to the provision and distribution of health care services, North Carolina’s Certificate of Need laws are a more extreme form of government central planning than anything currently in place at the federal level, including Obamacare itself, and more extreme than any policy for any industry being proposed by any of the presidential candidates. Ultimately CON laws are completely inconsistent with our free market system. They represent a level of government control that is outside the bounds of that which has been proposed by even the most pro-government and anti-market of this year’s presidential candidates. For this reason alone, one would think that, among conservative Republican legislators, there would be strong support for abandoning these regulations, and among a few there is.

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