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September 7, 2023

Hospital association seeks revamp of state’s Certificate of Need program

HBJ PHOTO | STEVE LASCHEVER Office of Health Strategy Executive Director Deidre Gifford in her Hartford office.

The Connecticut Hospital Association on Wednesday called for an overhaul of the state’s Certificate of Need (CON) program, citing concerns about delays and costs.

Through this program, healthcare providers must secure state approval prior to making certain changes, such as establishing a new health care facility, transferring ownership, mergers, substantial capital investments in new equipment or facilities, changing access to services or discontinuing a medical service.

The Wallingford-based association called for change during a public listening session hosted by the state Office of Health Strategy (OHS) at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford.  

The association, which represents hospitals and healthcare organizations around the state, indicated changes to the CON program are “desperately needed.”

“There are deficiencies within the current process that create excessive administrative burden and bureaucracy and are barriers to the delivery of cutting edge healthcare in our state,” the association said, in its statement.

It asserted that substantial delays in the state’s review of CON applications has obstructed hospitals’ efforts to provide services and preserve access.

“Beyond delays that inhibit access to care, the CON process often does not recognize the financial impact of decisions, which results in decisions that ultimately drive up healthcare costs,” the association added.

It indicated it wants to work with the state and lawmakers to overhaul the program.

The association asked for the legislature to focus on improving and speeding up the CON process and removing unnecessary costs and regulatory burdens. It also wants legislative attention to “ensure existing rules are being complied with and are equally applied across all entities.”

“The CON process should enhance, not diminish, healthcare affordability,” the association added.

The Office of Health Strategy said it values the feedback of everyone who offered their views. 

“These listening sessions are intended to offer an opportunity to hear from affected applicants, lawmakers, providers, and residents; in an effort to ultimately collaborate with all parties,” it said, in an emailed statement Thursday. “OHS’ goal is to efficiently and effectively fulfill the program’s very important oversight and regulatory functions for the state. We look forward to continuing our engagement with all stakeholders regarding the CON program in our pursuit of quality, equitable, affordable and accessible healthcare in Connecticut.”

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