One issue that just doesn’t receive the attention it needs is the issue of Certificate of Need in the state of Iowa. State Sen. Brad Zaun (R-Polk) is the legislative leader on this front in Des Moines.
“I’m a big, firm believer in an open market with the least amount of government intervention,” Zaun said. “I could tell you that there are states that have done this and it has significantly dropped the cost of the services that you get.”
A short explanation of Certificate of Need is that it is a regulatory review process that requires application to the Department of Public Health for and receipt of a certificate of need prior to offering or development of a new or changed institutional health service.
“It’s badly needed in the state of Iowa,” Zaun said of removing the Certificate of Need law in Iowa. “It hurts health care and it hurts competition by the current system that is in place. I’ll be honest with you, the time that really opened my eyes to this is when I was mayor of Urbandale and one of the hospitals wanted to build a hospital in Urbandale and couldn’t do it. Of course, then they settled on West Des Moines.”
Zaun said there was a huge tussle with the Certificate of Need officials who make the determination and the decision if there’s going to be a new location.
“I just think that’s wrong,” he said. “I think if a hospital wants to locate somewhere, they should be able to do that based on what they think is the best business model for them. I could tell you that there’s a greater example of a clinic in West Des Moines that does MRIs for about half the price of what MRIs at our local hospitals’ costs. I think whenever there is competition, it will drive down the price.”
Zaun has tried to get the bill through the last few years but receives significant pushback from health care people and hospitals.
“I truly believe in that bill,” he said.
He estimated 95 percent of the population has no idea that that’s what is required in the state of Iowa.
“I’m a free-market person and the elimination of Certificate of Need would be a step forward in regards to the free market,” Zaun said.
Zaun also has a bill that addresses health care settings displaying what the service charges are for different procedures.
You can read about the subcommittee hearing on Certificate of Need from last year here.