I have spent the last several weeks talking about the negative effects of the potential deregulation of the Certificate of Need (CON) program in Florida. As I have previously mentioned, CON, a regulatory process that requires health care providers to obtain state approval before offering services in Florida, will be decided in the upcoming legislative session.

This is not good news for our community. CON has the potential to dramatically increase health care costs, as well as lead to a significant decrease in quality of health care across Florida. It also has the potential to dramatically decrease access to quality health care that members of my community currently enjoy.

If CON were to go away, we would be left with a community where boutique health care businesses move in and offer only profitable services, instead of balancing these with vital services the community needs. This shift in health care would leave patients with fewer options because community hospitals would no longer be able to afford to offer many of the services they currently provide.

You see, the repeal of CON would mean that many patients would find themselves with fewer options for certain acute care services as community hospitals would no longer be able to afford to provide them. These hospitals would be forced to spend most their resources to provide services (the ones that are the most unprofitable) to patients without insurance or the inability to pay. At the same time, community hospitals would see a loss in market share (and thus revenue) of profitable medical services to these new specialty-medical practices that will flood the market post CON – leaving little room for necessary (albeit unprofitable) services and procedures. In Pennsylvania, state health analysts observed a serious decline in general acute care hospitals in the 10 years (1996-2005) after the state ended its CON law. At the same time, there was a dramatic increase in ambulatory service centers.

Finally, the deregulation of CON would hamper Jupiter Medical Center’s ability to provide community benefits like the $7 million we invested in Diabetes education, nutrition services, mammography screenings, wellness classes and support groups in 2015. A decrease in revenue that would come with deregulation could prevent us from providing the services our community needs and limited our neighbors’ access to these types of invaluable services.

I strongly believe that everyone in our community deserves access to the best, most affordable health care. So, I continue to advocate for our legislators to put down this legislation, convene a working group of health care leaders, physicians, medical professionals and patient advocates and work toward providing the highest quality and most affordable health care for this State’s most precious resource – Floridians.

If you are concerned about how the deregulation of CON and specifically, Senate Bill (SB 676) or House Bill (CS/HB7) will affect your access to high quality and affordable health care, I encourage to reach out to your legislators and make your voice heard.

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