By Rosana Garcia
Universal Health Care Foundation provided public comment at the Certificate of Need (CON) Task Force meeting on August 15, reminding the group that their decisions will have a very real impact on the people of the state.
On this hot August day, the Governor-appointed group was meeting to discuss how to change the state’s CON law and regulations.
The CON program has the power to determine such major changes as whether new health services and facilities can be offered in your community, if the ownership of existing facilities can change or whether a service can be closed. Changes to the CON process will impact the hospitals you go to, the doctors you see and where and how you get care in the future.
Here are some highlights from our public comment:
- The CON program’s role in preserving competition and planning a high-quality, accessible and affordable health system in the state is critical. Fulfilling that role has been challenging for the Office of Health Care Access (OHCA), the agency responsible for the CON program, given a rapidly shifting health care landscape and the agency’s lack of resources.
- The health care landscape in Connecticut has changed drastically, with in-state health systems growing larger, and out of state companies coming in to grow their multi-state organizations.
- These mergers and takeovers are occurring without sufficient consideration of their impact on the communities they serve. Public engagement in the CON process has been “pretty woeful,” unless an independent entity or interest recruits members of the public to attend and provide their comments at public hearings.
- The CON review process should actively seek public feedback on how the pending deals or changes may impact the community.
- CON decisions should require long term monitoring and enforcement of conditions on deals to protect the public; right now, ownership changes are only monitored for three years.
- A lot more has to be done within the CON program to put teeth into deal conditions, and to ensure local input and local voice in deals.
What it comes down to is that serving the public good MUST be the bottom line for Connecticut’s CON program. CON Task Force members have a challenge in front of them – to change Connecticut’s CON program into one that truly does preserve competition for the consumer, while still improving access to and quality of care, and keeping costs down so that everyone can get the health care they need, at a price they can afford.
Our Previous Coverage:
Malloy’s Certificate of Need Task Force Starts It’s Work (April 13, 2016)
Malloy Steps Into “Wild West” of Hospital Deals (March 9, 2016)