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Senate Subcommittee Doesn’t Act on COPN Bills; House Bill Advances

Senate Subcommittee Doesn’t Act on COPN Bills; House Bill Advances

The Senate Education and Health subcommittee on Certificate of Public Need (COPN) held a hearing this week on COPN reform measures and opted to have the bills “go by for the year.” This motion effectively ends consideration of the bills introduced in the Senate as the committee will not meet again. In the House of Delegates, HB 2337, which would create a two-phase process to sunset certificate of public need (COPN) requirements for many categories of medical care facilities in more populous areas and projects while preserving COPN for nursing centers, rehabilitation hospitals and beds, has been referred to the Appropriations Committee because of the potential state spending implications.  It cleared the Health, Welfare and Institutions (HWI) Committee on an 11-10 vote.

In remarks before the HWI Committee Del. John O’Bannon, patron of HB 2337, acknowledged that if this bill advances, the version before the committee would not be the final product.

How to approach COPN reform is still an unsettled issue in the General Assembly.  Concerns about how to proceed with any statutory changes are underscored by the uncertainty over the repeal of the Affordable Care Act and how that may affect hospital funding.  Several oversight committees, including the Joint Working Group on Certificate of Public Need (COPN) Reform and a joint effort by the Senate Finance and Education and Health Committees will meet throughout the year to plan the Commonwealth’s response to health care policy changes at the federal level.  Some legislators have even raised the prospect of a special session later in the year on these issues.