by Brenée Goforth
Communications Associate, John Locke Foundation
This week, the John Locke Foundation’s Director of Legal Studies, Jon Guze, submitted an amicus (“friend of the court”) brief on behalf of Dr. Gajendra Singh, a Winston-Salem surgeon who is suing the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) over its Certificate of Need (CON) law related to MRI machines. Dr. Singh contends the CON law is unconstitutional and unfairly prohibits him from helping his patients. In his amicus brief, Guze agrees, and responds to the state’s motion to dismiss the case.
North Carolina’s CON law requires doctors and hospitals to get permission from NCDHHS before they can purchase new equipment or expand facilities and offerings. The state – not the doctor or hospital – determines what is ‘needed’ and what is not. This artificially restricts the supply of hospital beds, scanners such as MRIs, and life-saving medical devices. Not only this, but these permission slips are extremely competitive and costly. The cost of successfully competing for a certificate of need is estimated at close to half a million dollars. Because of this high cost, most smaller providers cannot afford to even apply for a certificate of need, and certificates almost always go to large high-dollar hospital conglomerates.
Guze of the John Locke Foundation agrees with Dr. Singh and his attorneys from the Institute for Justice that North Carolina’s CON law violates Dr. Singh’s rights under the North Carolina Constitution in four ways: it violates the Anti-Monopoly Clause and the Exclusive-Emoluments Clause, and violates Dr. Singh’s right to due process and equal protection under the Law of the Land Clause.
On October 1, 2019, Guze discussed his brief on Carolina Journal Radio with Donna Martinez. A video excerpt of which is viewable above.