Carolina Journal’s Dan Way reports on North Carolina’s anti-competitive “Certificate of Need” laws.

North Carolina has fewer hospital beds and MRI scanners than other states, and restrains psychiatric services because of a regulatory process that protects legacy health care providers, says a new study from the Mercatus Center at George Mason University in Virginia.

According to Christopher Koopman, a Mercatus Center research fellow and co-author of “Certificate-of-Need Laws: Implications for North Carolina,” the Tar Heel State regulates 25 separate medical services or devices through its certificate-of-need law — the fourth-highest number in the United States. The national average of regulated practices (among those states with CON laws) is 14.

“The easiest way to think about certificate of need is it’s a permission slip to compete from the government” in a particular market, Koopman said. That approval is layered atop standard licensing and training requirements.

“These programs are all about restricting competition, and they’ve been done so in the name of lowering costs or increasing care to the poor,” Koopman said.

“But we have quite a bit of evidence now that suggests neither of those have been achieved,” he said. “What is achieved is reduced competition, and reduced choice for those seeking care in North Carolina and other states that enforce certificate of need programs.”

The report was released as state Rep. Marilyn Avila, R-Wake, is working on certificate of need law reform legislation she plans to submit this session. She and state Rep. John Torbett, R-Gaston, authored CON reform bills in 2013 that failed to move out of the committee process.

Certificate of Need is a law that should have been repealed long ago, as many states have done. For more background, here’s JLF’s Katherine Restrepo discussing the law with me on Carolina Journal Radio.