The Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce is laser-focused on creating the environment for businesses to succeed in our region.
Hospitals are a critical component of the Hampton Roads region, not only for the care they provide to our citizens, but also because of the jobs they create and the impact they have on our regional economy. The health care industry is one of the largest economic sectors in the Hampton Roads region and ranks among our top employers.
The General Assembly is debating measures right now that could undermine the stability of our health delivery system and cost the region’s hospitals millions of dollars. This debate centers on the Certificate of Public Need (COPN) and the decision to reform the current law or eliminate the regulation entirely.
The commonwealth’s definition of Certificate of Public Need onVirginia.gov is as follows:
The Virginia Certificate of Public Need program requires owners and sponsors of identified medical care facility projects to secure a COPN from the State Health Commissioner prior to initiating projects such as acute care services, general surgical services, and diagnostic imaging.
The program seeks to contain health care costs while ensuring financial viability and access to health care for all Virginia at a reasonable cost.
The Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce supports retaining the Certificate of Public Need law as it serves an important component of health care policy in the commonwealth. COPN is designed to create stability in our health care delivery system, control costs and ensure the quality of and access to health care services. COPN promotes access to care for the uninsured and the availability of health care services throughout all corners of the commonwealth.
Health care is not a free-market enterprise because hospitals are required to provide emergency care regardless of a patient’s ability to pay. Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce member Peter Bastone, president and CEO of Chesapeake Regional Healthcare, says without COPN, new facilities will target high-reimbursing insurance carriers while hospitals are left to treat patients who are uninsured, underinsured or enrolled in government programs that don’t reimburse hospitals enough to cover the actual cost of providing care. He also says a COPN repeal could result in hospital layoffs and a decline in patient access.
As the Hampton Roads region and the commonwealth as a whole grapple with both the short-term and potential long-term impacts of our federal deficit, we should do everything we can to support this critical economic sector. Make no mistake that significant deregulation of COPN or outright repeal without first taking the time to review the potential impacts on access to care, our hospitals and our economy could have a devastating impact on our region and the commonwealth.
The Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce urges the General Assembly to enact COPN process reforms that focus on increased transparency, accountability and efficiency within the COPN process while preventing adverse consequences for the public, our health care delivery system and our economy.
In short, COPN must be retained and carefully reformed for the greater good of Hampton Roads.