As you may know from my blog posts last spring, I spent significant time and energy during the first half of 2017 working with other health care professionals and legislators across the state to ensure that the Certificate of Need (CON) program was not repealed here in Florida.

Certificate of Need is a regulatory process that requires certain health care providers to obtain state approval before offering new or expanded services here in Florida. In my opinion, repealing CON remains bad news for the consumer because it has the potential to not only increase costs, but could also lead to a decrease in the accessibility and quality of health care in our state. Thankfully, last spring the Florida Legislature failed to pass a bill that would have eliminated CON. This means hospitals like Tampa General Hospital can continue to offer the highest quality and most accessible care at an affordable price.

As I predicted last June, the debate on CON is far from over. This time, however, those that are set on repealing CON and have been previously unsuccessful have decided to take a new approach. They are now looking to revise the state constitution in order to eliminate CON and in order to do so, have filed a constitutional amendment with the Constitution RevisionCommission that would repeal CON. This would prohibit the State of Florida from limiting the number of hospitals, nursing homes, hospitals or care facilities for individuals.

The Commission’s General Provisions Committee voted inDecember to approve the proposed constitutional amendment, sending it to the full Commission for a vote. If the Commission gives the amendment the thumbs up, the fate of CON will be in the hands of Florida voters come election time in November.

And so, while I am passionate about maintaining CON here in Florida, I am equally passionate about keeping it off the ballot. And here’s why:

  1. CON is a legislative issue and not a constitutional one. Lawmakers need to do their jobs. Regulation should be administered via the legislature.
  2. A ballot initiative campaign will be incredibly expensive as millions of dollars will be spent on television ads trying to persuade voters to one side of the issue or the other. This is money that could be better spent on helping to provide accessible and affordable health care to millions of Floridians.
  3. And most importantly, CON is a highly complex and nuanced issue that would be difficult to explain and be understood by voters in a thirty second sound bite. For a complicated issue that really affects people’s everyday lives, it would be irresponsible of the lawmakers to casually bury this into the ballot.

Everyone in our community deserves access to the best, most affordable health care. The repeal of 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.

I will continue to do all I can do to make sure that CON remains in place, including working to keep it off the ballot in November. I ask you to join me by making your voice heard.

Specifically, I encourage you attend one of the Constitution Revision Commission’s public hearings being held across Florida during February and March. There, you can let members of the Commission know your desire to have access to high quality and affordable health care and keep CON off the November ballot.

For a full schedule of the Commission’s statewide tour, visit here.

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