A clash of ideology was on display last week in the Mississippi Legislature.
On one side were free-market conservatives who want to overturn the state’s longtime system of limiting new medical facilities and services. On the other side are defenders of the current system who fear that changes could harm financially fragile parts of the state’s current health care system.
The debate is over what are called certificates of need. Now, if someone wants to build a new hospital, buy an expensive piece of equipment, or offer a new medical service, they have to get approval from the state Health Department.
It was once a federal requirement that all states use such a system, aiming to create a statewide plan for a health system and cut costs by reducing duplication. But the federal government repealed its mandate in 1987, and since then 14 states have repealed their laws, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures .
Mississippi has not ended its system, despite conservative criticisms that the licensing system gets abused by existing providers seeking to prevent competition and has not reduced costs.
Some Republicans are trying to change that, though….