CON Task Force Set to Finish Its Work: Let’s Hope for Positive Change 

hospital-road-sign-clip-artBy Lynne Ide

The Certificate of Need (CON) Task Force is set to finish its work by January 15 and send a list of recommendations to Governor Malloy for his consideration.

The question is:  Will the Task Force be bold enough to request changes to the state’s oversight of transactions in the hospital and health care delivery system in order to ensure affordable, quality access to care for all Connecticut residents?

We believe that some changes to the CON process are in order, particularly ones that recognize how much the health care delivery landscape has shifted over the past few decades.

There are now only a handful of independent, community hospitals remaining in Connecticut and two health systems (Yale-New Haven and Hartford HealthCare) have control over more than 50% of the state’s hospital activity.  In addition, the majority of medical practices are now owned by the large health systems.

As a result, it is far more important to most people that local health care needs are being met by hospitals and health care systems than whether or not a large medical practice can purchase an MRI machine.  The CON process needs to catch up with the times.

There are also actions that the legislature should take – above and beyond the scope of the CON process – to make sure that the interests of the community at-large are well represented in health care system decisions.

For example, Connecticut could beef up requirements for hospital Community Health Need Assessments and put more teeth into holding hospitals accountable to address local health needs via the Community Benefits requirements.

The bottom line is:  Connecticut should strive to use its regulatory oversight and statutory authority to make sure our state’s health care delivery system serves the health care needs of all the state’s residents – and serves our needs well, with quality, accessible, affordable care.

We strongly urge the Task Force to support the one key recommendation of the state’s Health Care Cabinet’s draft Recommended Health Care Cost Containment Strategies, which is the creation of an Office of Health Strategy.  (Read about the Cabinet’s recommendations here.)

If our state had a working state health care plan, oversight of the health care delivery system and CON decisions would be in the context of what the people of Connecticut truly need – not just what health care systems want.

An Office of Health Strategy would be a great step forward in getting us there.

Now, let’s hope the CON Task Force does its part!

(Read our Dec. 15 public comment here.)

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