Vote for HB 294 to help bring jobs

Published 11:35 am Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Dear Editor,

I recently completed service as a member of the State Health Coordination Council (SHCC), which, along with the Certificate of Need Review Board (CON), constitutes the board governing the State Planning and Development Agency (SHPDA).

The mission statement, and the purpose of the regulatory agency, is “to ensure that quality health care facilities, services, and equipment are available and accessible to the citizens of Alabama in a manner which assures continuity of care at a reasonable cost.”

Unfortunately, there are certain aspects of the legislatively-imposed regulatory process that produce the opposite effect.

The Alabama legislature is presently considering House Bill 294, sponsored by state Rep. Mary Sue McClurkin, which, if enacted, would considerably reform and streamline the regulatory process for decisions made by the CON, which are further contested.

A provision of HB294 would result in eliminating the need for an appearance in a circuit court and allow contested decisions by the CON to proceed directly to the appeals court process.

Typically, many of these decisions are “contested” by those providers whose objections amount to little more than concerns over increased competition.

Numerous CON applications are currently entangled in this process.

Furthermore, those projects represent hundreds of millions of dollars in investment, thousands of potential jobs, and millions more in pure economic impact. Vital medical services and technologies are being obstructed by the protracted regulatory process, delaying some for years.

HB 294 would eradicate some of these unnecessary obstacles, and thus free up the investment by healthcare providers to the benefit of us all.

Consequently, I urge the members of our legislature to vote for HB 294 and, in doing so, vote for jobs, increased investment, and expanded healthcare services to Alabama communities.

Freddy Ard