Kevin Smith calls for immediate repeal; questions his opponents in governor’s race
MANCHESTER – Today, Kevin Smith, Republican candidate for governor, said that it is far time for New Hampshire to repeal its Certificate of Need (CON) process for health care, and urged a legislative conference committee to support an immediate repeal. Smith has been an ardent supporter of repealing CON and has included it as part of his New Hampshire’s Future Is Now plan.
“The time to repeal the state’s antiquated Certificate of Need is now,” said Smith. “Delaying another five years only enables more unnecessary and bureaucratic interference in our health care economy, and further dampens competition and increases costs. This is not good for consumers and it’s not good for employers who wish to provide their employees with health insurance.”
Smith criticized the CON process as stifling competition. He noted that the current make up of the CON Board, formally known as the Health Services Planning and Review Board, consists of executives and representatives from the health care industry that likely benefit from the status quo. A New Hampshire Union Leader newspaper editorial today condemned a version of legislation that would delay repeal of the CON for five years and maintain the “current composition” of the CON Board.
In February, the free-market Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy also called for ending the CON process, arguing that “...CONs do not control costs, but do provide a significant barrier to entry to innovative health care facilities and limit competition in the health care marketplace.”
Smith also questioned his opponents in the governor’s race today. Democrats Maggie Hassan and Jackie Cilley both support keeping the CON process, and Republican Ovide Lamontagne has at times been unclear, but recently stated that he supports a “phase out” approach.
“There is a distinction between my position and Ovide Lamontagne’s position on CON,” said Smith. “I support a full repeal, because that is what’s necessary to unlock our health care economy and to keep government from picking and choosing winners in the marketplace. It’s a conservative, free-market point of view. On the other hand, Ovide’s position, though ambiguous, now seems be in favor of keeping the CON Board in place, phasing it out over time. I think that is mistake and bad public policy.”
Smith continued, “If we know that the CON is not working, and if we know that we’re better off without it, then why wait five years to get rid of it? I prefer a more decisive and immediate course of action, and that is to repeal it today.”