Certificate-of-Need Laws and Hospital Quality

Healthcare quality can be measured in many different ways, but until now, there hasn’t been a comprehensive measure of the impact of states’ certificate-of-need (CON) laws on hospital quality. As of 2015, 36 states and the District of Columbia had these laws, which give government regulators final approval over new or expanded healthcare services, facilities, and equipment. Proponents of CON laws say these requirements improve hospital quality by allowing existing providers to improve their skills in treating the greater number of patients who necessarily seek care in the limited number of hospitals.

A new study for the Mercatus Center at George Mason University challenges this notion. Using a broad dataset, the study finds no evidence that CON laws improve hospital quality. In fact, there are more deaths and serious postsurgery complications in hospitals in states with CON laws.

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