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Georgia CON law debate is a David v. Goliath story — 5 insights

Georgia legislators are discussing the state's certificate-of-need laws preceding a possible reform attempt, and a wealth of proponents and opponents are making their voices heard, The Georgia Sun reports.

Here's what you should know:

1. State hospital groups largely support the current CON system, while independent physician groups and national corporations oppose the measure.

2. State hospital groups largely benefit from the CON system, which suppresses competition. However, for rural hospitals, CON laws are a double-edged sword. While CON laws prevent surgery centers from taking rural hospitals' business, the laws also impact potential investment in rural community healthcare, according to Jimmy Lewis of HomeTown Health, a rural hospital organization.

3. Nashville, Tenn.-based Hospital Corporation of America and Boca Raton, Fla.-based Cancer Treatment Centers of America both support CON reform. HCA is seeking several changes, including lifting capital investment limits, deregulating behavioral health services and reducing laws governing bed counts.

HCA received a CON exception after it acquired a facility, and CTCA received an exemption after it built one. Relaxing the legislation could allow these large companies to build more facilities in Georgia.

4. The Independent Doctors of Georgia group is opposes Georgia's CON laws because they suppress competition. Attorney Victor Moldovan criticized the legislator's lack of progress, saying, "We're sort of frozen in 1979."

5. The Georgia Senate is in the process of beginning a study on CON laws. It's expected the study could begin before the senate convenes its next session in January.

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