Regulators Against Market Competition

Their obstruction sometimes has lethal consequences, and sometimes those consequences kill the least of the least among us: babies.

A little bit ago, in Salem, VA, a 24-weeks pregnant woman was taken to the ER suffering what turned out to be a placental abruption, a condition in which the placenta has detached from the uterus.  It’s often deadly for both the mother and the baby.  This hospital was not equipped to handle this sort of emergency, but six miles away, there was a hospital, Carilion Medical Center, that was so equipped, including an ambulance with incubators that could sustain the necessarily untimely ripped baby during transport to the other hospital.

That ambulance proved unavailable; it was on a call in the opposite direction.

They saved the mother’s life.

The baby didn’t make it.

The hospital to which the pregnant mother had been taken—the closest one to her—had been denied a permit for its own “high-tech neonatal care facilities:” the government of Virginia had decided that the facilities were not necessary.  The government of Virginia had made a business regulatory decision instead of letting the hospital business make its own decision, and that decision contributed to the death of this baby.

Virginia has a Certificate of Public Need (COPN) law requiring hospitals and other medical providers to get special permission from the state government before they are allowed to offer new services, like the specialty nursery that may have saved that child’s life…. These COPN licensing processes are supposed to balance the interests of hospitals with the needs of the public, but in reality they are fraught with politics and allow special interests to effectively veto unwanted competition.

Government balancing hospital interests against public necessity, with competing hospitals for the scales.  Because neither the hospital nor the public can be trusted to be adult enough to make their own decisions without their Know Betters “guiding” them.  But competing interests are fully competent.

The only opposition came from Alice Ackerman, a professor of pediatrics at Virginia Tech’s medical school—the Carilion School of Medicine, which has longstanding ties to Carilion hospital. In written testimony submitted to the Department of Health, Ackerman argued that the number of specialty bassinets at Carilion was sufficient to meet the needs of southwest Virginia.

And then Karen Remley, then Virginia Health Commissioner, denied the hospital’s permit. Under Virginia’s Certificate of Public Need laws, she alone had the final say in the matter.

Read the Reason report at the link.

This stinks.

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