by James C. Sherlock
I am a capitalist, but we haven’t had capitalism in the healthcare market in Virginia since the Certificate of Public Need (COPN) made its way into the Code of Virginia in 1968.
If we repealed COPN today, we’d still be left with the monopolies it has created and protected.
All that Virginians have gotten from that terrible law are a lack of competition, a lack of hospital capacity (exposed by COVID), few lower-cost ambulatory surgical and imaging centers, exorbitant hospital prices, monopoly control over healthcare labor and scandalously profitable non-profit regional healthcare monopolies.
As a direct result, Virginians paid over $1.5 billion dollars to hospitals in 2020 in excess of what they would have paid if Virginia hospitals had realized national median operating margins. That, of course drove up insurance payouts, on which the insurers based rates to make their own profits.
What the government giveth, the government can taketh away. The best way to lower prices is to lower prices.
Designate Virginia’s COPN-created regional healthcare monopolies as public utilities. Regulate their prices and margins as with the largest electric utilities. Continue reading