Ophthalmologist seeking ASC approval challenges Iowa's 40-year-old CON legislation: 4 insights

Ophthalmologist Lee Birchansky, MD, his patient Michael Jensen and Orange City, Iowa-based Korver Ear Nose and Throat are among those who filed a lawsuit against the Iowa Department of Public Health regarding the state's certificate-of-need legislation that went into effect in 1977, according to The Gazette.

Here are four insights:

1. The law's stipulation requiring physicians to obtain a CON before opening an ASC has impacted Dr. Birchansky's practice. The state has denied his application four times to open an ASC next to his office in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

2. In the area, two local hospitals have complete ownership over existing facilities and have starkly opposed Dr. Birchansky's proposal. In a statement, Dr. Birchansky said, "It is ridiculous that I have an outpatient surgery center that is already built, already equipped and all ready to go, but I have been denied a CON four times because established hospitals do not want competition."

3. Those supporting the CON process argue without legislator oversight, the state would have an increase in for-profit healthcare services. The CON law is essential because it falls in line with community-based healthcare, supporters argue.

4. Virginia-based Institute for Justice, another party that filed the suit, said the government should not decide what medical services are needed in the area, as physicians and patients can better make these decisions.

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