Certificate of Need Policy Brief Distributed Throughout Florida

“Understanding Florida’s Certificate of Need Program,” a policy brief commissioned by the Health Council of East Central Florida with financial support from the Winter Park Health Foundation (WPHF), has been completed and distributed throughout the state by the Health Council.

The new brief was sent to health care advocates and media, local government officials, and legislators and staff throughout Florida. It is posted on the Health Council’s website: www.hcecf.org/HCdocs/CON_Brief.pdf

Authored by The Lewin Group, the brief provides a history of the CON process throughout the country, and outlines the steps that the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) takes in determining whether to grant or deny a request for hospital or health care service expansion in Florida.  It also provides a summary of frequently cited arguments for and against CON regulation.

The brief has been issued at a time when two local hospitals–the Osceola Regional Medical Center and Nemours Foundation–have submitted letters to AHCA announcing their intent to expand hospital services in Central Florida, thereby initiating the CON process.

The WPHF Access Work Group approved a grant of up to $15,000 for research and publication of the policy brief to provide an unbiased, informative description of Florida’s Certificate of Need (CON) process. The objective of the brief was to educate the community about the CON laws and encourage public participation in the process.

CON is the common name for a diverse group of state health care laws that regulate the supply of health care facilities. These laws require that a permit, called a Certificate of Need, be issued by AHCA before a health care facility may construct or expand, offer a new service, or purchase equipment exceeding a certain cost. CON laws provide statutory and rule criteria to guide the issuing agency’s decisions.

The Health Council of East Central Florida is the local agency charged with serving as the public hearing officer for AHCA when a Certificate of Need process is underway. The Health Council’s goal in publishing a policy brief on CON was to create “an unbiased, informative description” of the CON process. AHCA is set to make its decision on the Nemours CON request by June 16, 2006.