Curb medical costs

Letter to the editor

Posted: Thursday, March 16, 2006

The rising cost of medical care in Alaska can be fixed by getting rid of our state's Certificate of Need laws. So why haven't we? That's a good question for your district representatives and local senators - especially if you live in Wrangell.

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Peggy Wilson, R-Wrangell, has recently pulled House Bill 287 from a scheduled hearing. The proposed bill would repeal an archaic state law called "Certificate of Need," which requires medical facilities to receive state approval for construction of new clinics or surgery centers. Alaska has the second most restrictive Certificate of Need laws in the country, which has resulted in almost no competition in the marketplace (which correlated directly with our embarrassingly high cost of care). I'm no economist, but historically increased competition means lower prices for the consumer. Additionally, market forces have proved significantly better at regulating supply in this country than government intervention. After all, our founding fathers wrote of a free market economy not government regulated competition.

Alaska has some of the highest health care costs in the nation, yet here we are driving prices up by protecting the hospitals from healthy competition. A surgery center that specializes in a focused area of medicine can perform the same procedure as the hospital in a more efficient manner for about one third of the price. The U.S. Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission have both identified Certificate of Need regulations as a major driver of rising health care costs for states that maintain them and go on to say that "states with Certificate of Need programs should reconsider whether these programs best serve their citizens health care needs."

But then again, when has it ever really been about the citizens? Call your representative and senator today, and ask them why they support higher health care costs for Alaskans.

Jeremy Hayes


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