House Bill 350, which would deregulate some health care services, including MRI and CT imaging, was shelved Monday “on the grounds it had revenue implications and needed to be considered by the Senate Finance Committee.” reports the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
The vote was a big win for the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association, which had lobbied against any effort to loosen the regulatory chokehold on the construction of new health care facilities and purchase of expensive imaging equipment. The Certificate of Public Need (COPN) law curtails new entrants into the health care marketplace and limits competition between the big health care systems, effectively giving hospitals monopoly power. Hospitals argue that monopoly profits are needed to sustain high levels of uncompensated care.
Thus, Virginia is stuck in a netherworld in which the General Assembly refuses to enact Medicaid expansion that would provide health care for hundreds of thousands of uninsured Virginians and is unable to enact market-based reforms that would improve quality and drive down costs through more competition.
That’s pretty much the story of the Old Dominion these days — stuck with the status quo and the worst of both worlds.
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