Surgeon's lawsuit over North Carolina's certificate-of-need policy: Where it stands

The North Carolina Supreme Court has granted review in September for a lawsuit from Jay Singleton, MD, who owns an ophthalmology practice in New Bern, N.C., challenging the state's certificate-of-need laws. 

Dr. Singleton, an ophthalmologist, can perform only an "incidental" number of surgeries from his center's operating room under current law, the suit alleges. He also could not begin the certificate-of-need application process as the state has determined that the community does not need another center.

He must instead perform procedures at a nearby hospital, Carolina East, which charges substantially more per procedure for patients, according to court documents shared with Becker's. According to the suit, filed in April 2020, CarolinaEast charges more than $6,000 per procedure, while Dr. Singleton can provide cataract surgeries for less than $1,800.

The suit's most recent opening brief alleges the certificate-of-need laws violate the state's law-of-the-land clause in how it is not "reasonably necessary to protect the public" and the exclusive privileges and anti-monopoly clauses because the law grants an exclusive right to provide private services. 

A response from the state argues the court should affirm the judgment because the plaintiffs failed to exhaust administrative remedies, and failed to state a valid claim under both the law-of-the-land clause and the exclusive-emoluments and anti-monopoly clauses, according to court documents shared with Becker's

The plaintiffs' reply to the state's response is due Feb. 5, attorneys told Becker's.

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