What Are Certificate of Need Laws? Office-Based Surgery Regulations by State

August 10th, 2023 | Office-Based Surgery Regulations

Over the past six decades, certificate of need (CON) laws were put in place by some state legislatures to regulate healthcare facility development in those states. These laws have been controversial, leading some states to allow their laws to expire. Still, for physicians interested in office-based surgery development, CON laws may play a major role in your options.

Learn more about certificate of need laws and office-based surgery regulations by state from your healthcare strategy experts.

What Are Certificate of Need Laws?

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), certificate of need laws are used to approve and deny major projects for certain healthcare facilities. In states with CON laws, healthcare providers need to seek approval from state health planning agencies to create or expand facilities or services in specified areas. 

The aim of CON laws is to restrict duplicate or unneeded services in an effort to reduce healthcare costs.

Office-Based Surgery Regulations by State

The regulations governing the development of surgery centers or office-based surgery centers vary from state to state. NCSL reported in 2023 that there are currently 35 states with CON laws in place, along with Washington D.C. At one time, all but one state had CON laws on the books, but all 35 have since repealed or allowed those laws to lapse. 

In 2021, at least six states enacted CON legislation, with 12 more states enacting or modifying CON laws in 2022. Three other states have similar laws restricting healthcare expansion but no actual CON systems. In 13 states, CON laws stop all healthcare facilities from carrying out certain expansion projects, mostly related to long-term care.

What Are the Advantage and Disadvantages of CON Laws?

The advantages and disadvantages of CON laws vary depending on who you ask. For instance, while the purpose of the laws is to keep down healthcare costs, critics say they actually make costs higher by restricting competition. In that same vein, some critics of CON laws argue that, by blocking new competition, these systems only benefit existing hospitals and providers. 

At the same time, critics say CON laws hurt patients by keeping costs high and by restricting their options for care. According to the State Policy Network, states with CON laws had 11% higher healthcare costs, 30% fewer hospitals by capita, and 14% fewer ambulatory surgery centers by capita.

Navigate CON Laws and Ambulatory Surgery Center or In-Office Surgery Development

If you’re considering an in-office or ambulatory surgery center development project, there’s a good chance you’re going to run up against your state’s certificate of need laws. Make sure your development project will benefit both your practice and your patients with help from an office-based surgery development advisor.

When you work with Rockett Healthcare Strategies, you get the insights and support you need to expand your private practice and overcome challenges. From the feasibility assessment to negotiations with insurance companies, we’ll be by your side, guiding you every step of the way. Don’t wait to learn how we can help your private practice grow and thrive.

Ready to grow your private practice? Get feasibility assessments, accreditation assistance, and a clear path forward from Rockett Healthcare Strategies.