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I appreciate Saturday’s Wilson Times editorial on the certificate of need laws. It was a subject I was working to address in a letter to the editor. I agree completely — this pandemic has highlighted the need to have a flexible and rapid response capability in our health care system and repealing CON laws would be a great first step.
There is another issue related to the CON laws that also needs attention — the lack of health care access in rural areas. CON laws restrict adding services and require a bureaucratic process of approval that stifles quick growth. They have not shown to benefit the people of North Carolina, especially in rural and underserved areas as noted in a George Mason University study available via the shortened link https://bit.ly/33ABCeV.
While there are reports of shortages of medical professionals, the reality there is no shortage of doctors in North Carolina. However, there is a shortage of doctors and medical services in rural and underserved areas.
We should develop a program like one used to get teachers into underserved areas. Offering incentives to new doctors to open practices in areas where health care access is limited would help bring the people of North Carolina access to health services not currently available. Types of incentives could include student loan payoff, low-interest business loans or tax incentives. These incentives could be structured to provide the greatest incentive for the areas of greatest need.
Incentives should also include a specified period of commitment, with an option to reduce that time if they recruit another new doctor to take over the practice. That would help ensure those health care services remain consistent where they are needed most.
The writer is the Republican candidate for N.C. House District 24.