Beacon Center of Tennessee Releases Healthcare Access Report Highlighting the Barriers Posed by Certificate-of-Need Laws

The Beacon Center of Tennessee released a report Thursday highlighting challenges to healthcare access in the state posed by Certificate-of-Needs (CON) laws.

CON laws, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, are defined as “state regulatory mechanisms for approving major capital expenditures and projects for certain health care facilities,” or, as defined by the Beacon Center, “government permission slips.” The laws also aim at protecting existing hospitals from new competitors.

The organization reports that approximately 1 in 5 healthcare innovations that require CON approval were rejected in the state of Tennessee over the last 20 years, leading to many facilities “never opening their doors or expanding to serve some of the state’s most vulnerable communities.”

The Beacon Center is calling on Tennessee policymakers to repeal the “outdated” CON laws which, as it states in the report, “deprive millions of people of additional access to care and deprive communities of hundreds of millions of dollars in economic benefits.”

If Tennessee repealed all CON laws, there would be “63 more hospitals in the state (including 25 more in rural areas), fewer deaths from postsurgical complications, and residents would save $223 per year in healthcare costs,” according to research cited by the organization in its report.

“Tennessee’s place as an economic leader is in danger if Tennesseans are unable to live healthy lives and access the care they need. Just as growing communities make investments in infrastructure, healthcare providers should be free to grow and invest in services and facilities to meet the needs of a growing community—but they are currently prohibited from doing so due to CON laws,” the organization states in its report.

“With healthcare as expensive and complex as it is, the government shouldn’t arbitrarily limit options and access for patients by protecting current providers from competition,” Beacon Policy Director Ron Shultis further said in a statement. “Repealing CON laws will save lives, and this should be one of the top priorities at the legislature this session.”

The Beacon Center of Tennessee is a nonprofit, independent organization that is “dedicated to providing concerned citizens and public leaders with expert empirical research and timely free-market solutions to public policy issues in Tennessee,” according to its website.

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Kaitlin Housler is a reporter at The Tennessee Star and The Star News Network.


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