By Rosana Garcia
The Governor’s Certificate of Need (CON) Task Force met for its third session on July 18 (CT-N recording of the meeting here). June 20th’s meeting was cancelled, due to the General Assembly’s Special Session. Some highlights from the meeting:
- In the public comment period, Arvind Shaw, Executive director of Generations Family Health Center, discussed the challenges to health care access at Windham Memorial Community Hospital after it was taken over by Hartford HealthCare.
- Dr. Zack Cooper, who presented at the Health Care Cabinet in February, shared more on his findings about health care markets and gave some suggestions to the Task Force on the CON program. He opened his discussion by explaining how rising health care costs are a real-time issue for many individuals and families. He wrapped up his presentation with policy recommendations; Dr. Cooper supports addressing anti-competitive mergers and acquisitions with anti-trust enforcement, rather than using the CON program for this purpose. Several Cabinet members took exception at Dr. Cooper’s conclusions, though it was generally agreed that his data analysis was useful for their discussion.
- Victoria Veltri, now the Chief Health Care Policy Officer in Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman’s office, updated the Task Force on the status of the Health Care Cabinet’s Cost Containment Study, which saw a straw model proposal from consultants last week. As there is some overlap in membership between the Task Force and the Health Care Cabinet (and the Lt. Governor heads both), it will be interesting to see if the two bodies will coordinate their recommendations to the legislature.
- Office of Policy and Management (OPM) staffers presented an overview of the results of a survey that was given to all the Task Force members, asking them about their views of the CON program (you can also check out the more in-depth final results).
- Office of Health Care Access (OHCA) – the state agency that oversees a bulk of the CON process – shared CON processes and the hospital landscape in other states, taking a deeper look at Hawaii, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina and New Jersey’s CON programs.
- An hour was dedicated to discussion about the goals of the CON program: Planning, need, access, cost, quality, and competition. What was clear by the end of the meeting is that members of the Task Force have differing views on what a CON program should and can do. What makes the CON conversation particularly challenging is that the CON program in Connecticut oversees a myriad of health care services in the state. While the CON Task Force arose out of concerns about the accelerated changes of hospital ownership in the state, the CON program also applies to nursing home facilities the purchase of health care technology. All of these issues are up for discussion.
We will keep you posted on future CON Task Force meetings, as the group moves towards their recommendations, which are due on December 1, 2016