20 Nov 2020 COVID-19 Exposes Failing Medical Regulation
Government intervention has led to an increased mortality rate.
That’s the key finding of a new study that National Center Senior Fellow Bonner Cohen Ph.D. profiles in an article published by the Heartland Daily News. Put simply, bureaucrats were not ready for the COVID-19 pandemic. And those states that have developed workarounds to these laws are now experiencing an increased mortality among sick residents.
Certificate of Need (CON) laws exist in 36 states and the District of Columbia. Because they give government bureaucrats the ability to control spending in certain health care institutions, Bonner notes that these laws “artificially restrict the expansion of medical facilities, equipment (including hospital beds) and services.” This power comes from a 1974 law – the “National Health Planning and Resources Development Act” – designed to ensure an equitable balance of resources and therefore improve access for the poor.
But the study, conducted by university economists for the research platform SSRN, found that “these laws were not designed to prepare for health care demand surges such as what we have seen with the recent pandemic.”
Bonner explains that the study – “Certificate-of-Need Laws and Healthcare Utilization During COVID-19 Pandemic” – found that “CON laws limit access to beds, respirators, ambulatory services, and CT/MRI imaging – resources crucial to the care of COVID and non-COVID patients,” and that it “sheds light on how scarce resources are distributed during a time of increased demand by patients” due to CON constraints.
In a further description of the study’s findings, Bonner writes:
The study found that when comparing states that have reformed their CON laws with states that have not, mortality in states with a high hospital or ICU bed utilization for non-COVID related illnesses was “substantial and significant.”…
Additionally, the researchers found that, in states with high ICU bed utilization that subsequently reformed their CON laws in order to increase acquisitions of medical equipment, 11 lives per 100,000 residents were saved weekly from COVID.
One of the researchers, Sriparna Ghosh of the University of Cincinnati Blue Ash, said that this study shows how “[i]nefficient and burdensome regulations are costing American lives.” By reforming or repealing CON laws altogether, “we can allow providers to stockpile crucial equipment they need for unexpected surges in demand for health care, minimizing additional lives lost through stressed markets and inefficient purchasing systems that require government permission to proceed.”
Click here to read all of Bonner’s article – “Certificate of Need Laws Kill People, Study Finds” – at the Heartland Institute’s Health Care News website.