Blogs by Rep Bob Lynn

Blog site of Representative Bob Lynn, Alaska House of Representatives,District 31 Anchorage, Alaska. Blogs consist of public comments during legislative sessions, speeches, political commentary, as well as personal observations, and some journal type entries. Comments are invited.

Location: Anchorage, Alaska, United States

Member of the Alaska State House of Represeentatives since 2003. US Air Force, Retired; military bandsman; F94C interceptor pilot; Vietnam service as radar controller (Monkey Mountain), radar site commander(Pleiku); Government Contract Management; Public school Teacher, Retired. Married 55 years to Marlene Wagner Lynn, 6 children, 20 grandchildren, 1 great-grandchild. Member St. Elizabeth Ann Seaton Church. Former Tucson Arizona policeman, Ambulance Driver and Mortician's Assistant, Realtor (currently on referral status).

Friday, April 07, 2006


The following editorial, published today in the Anchorage Daily News is a direct response to a previous editorial opposing my bill published by the state commissioner of Alaska's Department of Health and Human Services.

I'm very concerned about cost and availability of good health care in Alaska. With that in mind, I've sponsored both a bill and an initiative to eliminate the monoplies created by so-called "Certificates of Need" mandated by the state administration.

Anchorage Daily News Compass Editorial Published: April 7, 2006


Want to open a health care business in Alaska? Under current law, you'll have to go hat-in-hand to the governor and his minions to beg for a "certificate of need." That's why I've sponsored House Bill 287 and co-sponsored an initiative to repeal Alaska certificate of need law.

If someone wants to open a hot dog stand, shoe store or a health care facility, it's none of the government's business. A competitive marketplace is as American as apple pie, whether for medical care or anything else. Competition encourages lower prices, motivates excellence and facilitates consumer choice. That's Economics 101.

Current certificate of need requirements discriminate against small businesses by denying entry into the health care market. Limited choices inflate prices. Perhaps the Certificate of need should be relabeled "Certificate of Monopoly."

When I get sick, I don't want the government limiting my choices. The more medical availability the better. When I shop for a new TV, things usually turn out better if I have a wide range of dealers and models to choose from. Good medical care is no different and is infinitely more important.

Medical costs in Alaska are skyrocketing to crisis levels. Eliminating certificate of need requirements should help lower Alaska's health care costs, reduce workers' compensation costs and help keep things more affordable for both families and businesses. We can't lower the price of gasoline by limiting oil production. Why would limiting the supply of medical facilities lower health care costs?

As expected, health care monopolies with vested interests have responded the only way they can -- by attaching humongous fiscal notes to both my bill and the initiative. To paraphrase Ronald Reagan, "There they go again!"

The first cost scenario received for the initiative eliminating the certificate of need was an amazing $41 million. Fiscal notes by the Department of Health and Social Services for HB 287 came up to about $45 million cost to the state. A recent newspaper opinion piece by the administration pegs state fiscal impact at more than $30 million. Trying to get realistic estimates from the administration has been like trying to pick up a bar of soap in the shower.

The astronomical figures attached to HB 287 are grossly misleading and inaccurate. Estimates are based on extremely unlikely expenditures, like the cost of a new cardiac hospital. (That's as likely as Lockheed building an aircraft factory here.) Most expenditures cited in the administration estimates are paid for by the business owners at no cost to the state; nonetheless they're lumped into the fiscal note.

No explanation accompanies the data -- just numbers changing with each phase of the moon. The state admits the cost estimates are suspect by stating, "It is not possible to identify with any confidence which projects would or would not have been approved." Fiscal notes don't even mention potential savings to the state if the certificate of need requirement is scrapped.

The goal of HB 287 and the related initiative is to eliminate obsolete and artificial certificate of need barriers, thereby allowing expanded medical choice and less expensive health care. My bill and the initiative should be judged on verifiable fiscal information, potential cost savings and excellence for all concerned. That's only fair. Like everything else, medical care should be based on the principles of free enterprise -- not political influence from large monopolistic hospitals.
Note: My bill (HB287)is scheduled for its second hearing in the House HESS Committee on ASpril 27, 2006. Comments are invited.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

But do you object to the government limiting your choices by licensing physicians and granting them exclusive abilities, and by requiring a prescription before you can buy antibiotics, etc.? I bet you think that's a good thing. But it's still a "barrier to entry" and one that limits the application of competition.

The fact is that healthcare is extremely highly regulated and will continue to be. It's in the public interest. The idea is have responsible, reasonable regulation. Healthcare is a different "product," where "competition" doesn't work (as in lowering prices and increasing quality) simply by adding more providers. Research shows that patients don't shop on price, don't know what they need, must rely on their doctor's advice (leading to potential conflicts of interest when the doctor also owns a facility), and perhaps most importantly -- don't spend their own money (if they have insurance).

CON can work if it's implemented correctly. State Legislatures across the US recognize the value of CON when it comes to paying *their* healthcare bill. In every state with a CON review process, any addition of or change in long-term care beds, 70% of which are reimbursed by partly state-funded Medicaid, is subject to review.

The two CON bills introduced this Alaskan legislative session (SB 65 and HB 4) would weaken CON, yet retain it where the State is the primary payer (long-term care and mental health). Why do you think is the reason for this?

There are some people who want to do away with it in order to profit at the public's expense. Let's not them, shall we?

9:09 AM  

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