Let the consumers decide

Published 11:09am Tuesday, August 14, 2012

By JAN GRIFFEY / Editor

Trinity Medical Center wants to open a hospital on U.S. 280 in Jefferson County, just north of the Shelby County border, in the now-vacant building that was constructed by HealthSouth for that purpose.

However, others who operate hospitals in this area – namely Brookwood and St. Vincent’s – don’t want that to happen.

The effort is tied up in courts and appeals processes.

At the same time, Brookwood wants to open a free-standing emergency facility on U.S. 280 in Shelby County. Trinity and St. Vincent’s are at work trying to block that effort.

Brookwood’s quest got a boost last week, when in a complicated move, a state appeals court overturned another court’s ruling, and Brookwood will get another opportunity for its request for a certificate of need to be approved. The only ones happy about any of this are attorneys.

The ones who are very much at risk are Shelby County residents, who live miles and miles from the nearest hospital and emergency room, and, depending upon the time of day, potentially face horrendous traffic woes if we need to get to a hospital quickly.

All this begs the question, why does Alabama need a certificate of need review board? Why not let the forces of fair market competition go to work for the health care industry, just like it works for the rest of us?

Something like 15 states do not have a board that must review and certify a need before new hospital beds are constructed. Florida is one of those.

Certificate of need review boards came into being originally as a way to help keep down health care costs. Obviously, that hasn’t been the result of having them.

It is interesting that, in such a conservative state with a Republican-led administration and legislature, all of which preach less government intervention and regulation, this certificate of need fiasco stands in the way of providing much-needed access to hospital facilities for Shelby County residents.

Why not let them all open their hospitals and ER facilities and let consumers make market decisions?

Who is the certificate of needs review board protecting or benefitting? Not the residents of Shelby County.

Jan Griffey is the Editor for the Shelby County Reporter. She can be reached at 669-3131 or by email at jan.griffey@shelbycountyreporter.com.

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