Certificate of need bills introduced to reduce costs, increase access

LANSING, Mich. — A package of bills introduced in the Senate Wednesday would eliminate some unnecessary medical care certificate of need requirements in Michigan, said lead sponsor Sen. Curt VanderWall.

A certificate of need (CON) is a legal document that enables the establishment or expansion of health care facilities or services. A commission governs the standards for Michigan’s CON and the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) reviews each application according to these standards.

Senate Bills 669-675 would reduce medical costs and provide more medical care access to Michigan residents.

“Since becoming chair of the Senate Committee on Health Policy and Human Services at the beginning of the year, I have spent a great deal of time working to understand the certificate of need requirements in Michigan and ways to improve upon them,” said VanderWall, R-Ludington. “The bills introduced today are commonsense reforms that will eliminate unnecessary red tape, reduce costs and provide more access to Michigan residents.”

VanderWall introduced SBs 669, 670, 672 and 673 in the package.

SB 669 would eliminate covered capital expenditures from the certificate of need process. SB 670 would exempt critical access hospitals more than 35 miles away from another hospital from having to be regulated by certificate of need.

“Critical access hospitals are already highly regulated in order to receive the critical access hospital designation, and certificate of need is just another administrative burden that may inhibit their ability to provide access to Michiganders in medically underserved areas,” VanderWall said. “The process of getting approved for a certificate of need for covered capital expenditures is costly and unnecessary given that there are no standards by which to reject an application.”

SBs 672 and 673 would repeal the certificate of need requirement for psychiatric beds and would require, as a condition of licensure, a psychiatric hospital or psychiatric unit to accept public patients and maintain 50% of beds available to public patients.

“There is a mental health shortage in Michigan that we must address,” VanderWall said. “Opening additional beds by eliminating the certificate of need requirement can only help improve access.”

The following bills in the package were also introduced Wednesday:

SB 671 (Sen. Lana Theis, R-Brighton). Would add two new public members to the state’s Certificate of Need Commission and make it easier to appoint members to Standard Advisory Committees;

SB 674 (Sen. Michael D. MacDonald, R-Macomb Township). Would repeal the certificate of need requirement for air ambulance services; and

SB 675 (Sen. Dale Zorn, R-Ida). Would eliminate burdensome regulations for cardiac catheterization procedures that can be done safely in an outpatient setting.

SBs 669-675 have been referred to the Senate Committee on Health Policy and Human Services.

The committee will meet on Thursday, Dec. 5 at 1 p.m. in Room 1100 of the Connie B. Binsfeld Office Building, 201 Townsend St., Lansing. VanderWall, who chairs the committee, said he expects to take testimony on the bills at that time.

Senator Curt VanderWall