By Rosana Garcia
This past Monday, the Governor’s Certificate of Need (CON) Task Force met for the second time. The Task Force is charged with making recommendations to the legislature on changes to the CON program. This meeting focused on CON’s in other states and health care reform initiatives in Connecticut (read our blog on the first meeting).
Community, consumers – Where do we fit in?
Here at the Foundation, we believe that community benefit and consumer focused policies are too often an afterthought in the CON process. In recent CON public hearings, we have emphasized the need for hospitals to be accountable to their communities. We have previously blogged about our major concerns about the Eastern Connecticut Health Network and Waterbury Hospital deals with Prospect Medical Holdings (ECHN public hearing blog, Waterbury Hospital public hearing blog, Waterbury resident guest blog).
At the Task Force on Monday, of particular interest to consumers and the community was a recommendation regarding community benefit in the context of CON:
“In order to stimulate community benefits, selected conditions should be placed on approved CON applications related to charity care, unreimbursed costs for means-tested government programs, subsidized health services, community health improvement services and benefits operations, research, healthcare professional education, community health needs assessments, and contributions to community groups (see examples in New York, Michigan, Maryland and North Carolina).”
This recommendation came from Thomas Piper, from MacQuest Consulting and national expert on CON programs, who presented on “National CON Perspectives” (you can see his presentation here). Mr. Piper also conducted an independent assessment of the Connecticut CON program in 2014 (you can read that here), which was distributed to Task Force members at the first meeting.
CON as protection for financial & geographic access
The Office of Health Care Access’ (OHCA) ability to place conditions on CON applications is an important function. Ultimately, the CON program is about access. Ideally, CON is supposed to help keep health care services affordable, by indirectly influencing cost. But the CON program is also critically important to ensuring that residents have high-quality health care services reasonably close to them.
The protection that the CON program can provide for state residents is critical. This should be a major consideration in the review of the program: does the CON program effectively promote financial and geographic access to health care for residents? How can it be done better? Communities and consumers should be front and center in any recommendations the CON Task Force makes to improving the CON program.
A little more on May’s CON Task Force meeting:
While consumer and community concerns are important to highlight, there were a few other interesting tidbits from the meeting.
In Piper’s presentation, there were some great slides that looked at health care costs in CON and non-CON states conducted by Daimler Chrysler and General Motors. Another slide looked at all 50 states and their level of CON review for different health care services.
Vicki Veltri, the state’s Healthcare Advocate, presented on other health reform initiatives in Connecticut, giving the Task Force context for its work. Her presentation has a great snapshot of everything the state is working on to improve health care for all residents.
NEWSFLASH: The Office of Health Care Access has announced that there will be a public hearing for the Yale New Haven Health System’s proposed acquisition of Lawrence + Memorial Hospital on June 15, 3 p.m., at Connecticut College (see public notice here).
It is unclear what this means in the context of the Governor’s Executive Order regarding a moratorium on all CON proceedings involving Yale New Haven Health System and Hartford HealthCare and which created the CON Task Force. Stay tuned for more on this issue.
Governor’s Certificate of Need Task Force webpage includes a full listing of the members of the Task Force, presentations, and other documents distributed to the group