The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is making headlines in Alaska, supporting a move to repeal that state’s certificate of need (CON) law. CON laws require health care providers to establish that a need exists for the services the provider seeks to provide. If there is no need, the provider is not allowed to establish its business.
The goals of CON laws are to reduce health care costs, reduce redundancy, and to improve access to care. CON laws are designed to ensure that health care is available in poor or rural communities, not just cities and wealthy areas. A 1974 federal law (repealed in 1987) required all states to enact CON laws.
The FTC argues that CON laws hurt competition and do not live up to the goals of protecting consumers from unexpected health care costs. The FTC says that CON laws create barriers to entry into the market which limits consumer choice and may stifle innovation.
With the weight of the FTC behind the repeal movement, is Alaska’s law doomed? Maybe not. The FTC criticized Illinois’ CON law in 2008, and the law is still in force, going strong.