Letter to the Editor-It says a lot about a politician when they choose to take the lead in a controversial issue that will help patients save statewide on the healthcare costs. As Co-Chair of the Market Based Solutions and Elimination of Anti-Competitive Practices in Healthcare, Senator Tom Apodaca is stepping into an area of regulatory reform that has seen little change since the Certificate of Need (CON) laws were put in place back in the 1970’s. Our CON’s laws are considered one of the most restrictive in the country, and even the Federal Trade Commission is now saying, “the laws undercut consumer choice, stifle innovation and weaken markets’ ability to contain health care costs.”
Sen. Apodaca’s study committee has focused on increasing patient choice and lowering costs when it comes to outpatient surgery and certain imaging services. Patients will get a double benefit from reducing these unnecessary healthcare regulations—they will be able to save an average 40% on outpatient surgery and imaging and have more places to have the procedures done because low cost providers will be allowed to compete. Since over 70% of surgery is now outpatient, a large percentage of North Carolinians will benefit.
Few changes have occurred in CON over the years for a good reason: the healthcare providers that currently have CON’s don’t want the competition, which would drive down the costs. These special interest groups have been working legislators hard to ensure that the lock they have on the market does not change. Their energy has been particularly focused against Sen. Apodaca’s patient-friendly committee. We have two other western legislators serving on that committee: Sen. Jim Davis and Rep. Nathan Ramsey.
Buncombe County has some of the highest health care rates in the state because there is very little competition. Our high healthcare costs not only impact residents who have to pay more for care than should have to, but they also impact our employers who have to figure out how to pay the high rates and stay profitable. As a Buncombe County resident, I appreciate Sen. Apodaca’s leadership in lowering healthcare costs for Medicaid, Medicare, health insurance and self-pay patients who need a break from ever increasing medical costs.
It can’t be easy to stand up for constituents who live in such a hospital-heavy community. I am grateful that he is able to see what is right for us, the people. Sen. Apodaca, thank you for co-chairing the Committee on Market Based Solutions and Elimination of Anti-Competitive Practices in Health Care. It is legislators like you that give me hope for our communities, large and small.