Meet the surgeon suing North Carolina over certificate-of-need policy

 Ophthalmologist Jay Singleton, MD, who owns an ophthalmology practice in New Bern, N.C., is challenging the state's certificate-of-need laws in a suit that says he can't perform procedures at his ASC. 

Under current law, Dr. Singleton can only perform an "incidental" number of surgeries at the center. He must instead perform procedures at nearby hospital CarolinaEast, which charges substantially more per procedure for patients, according to court documents shared with Becker's

Dr. Singleton also can't begin the certificate-of-need application process because state regulations have determined that the community doesn't need another center, according to a news release from the Institute of Justice. 

Dr. Singleton sued North Carolina in April 2020. The North Carolina Court of Appeals unanimously dismissed a surgeon's challenge to the state's certificate of need laws but the case is now pending before the North Carolina Supreme Court, Jaimie Cavanaugh, an attorney at the Institute of Justice told Becker's.

State treasurer Dale Folwell has filed a brief in support of reforming certificate-of-need laws in the state. 

"Certificate-of-need laws contribute to consolidated healthcare monopolies in North Carolina by distorting market power in favor of large institutional hospitals," he said in the brief. "This illegal distortion of market power then results in higher prices, lower quality, and less availability of healthcare services. In turn, large institutional hospitals create incredible excess revenue while failing to earn their tax-exempt status through the provision of charity care and engage in business practices harmful to North Carolinians."

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