Certificate of Need & Academic Standards in NC

Ten CCTA members Attended Academic Standards Review Commission Meeting
and Certificate of Need Hearing in Raleigh 4-20-15

CCTA’S Public Education Committee and Legislative Action Committee joined forces and got 10 of us to Raleigh on Monday, April 20th. Our troops included Kim Fink (Chair, Public Education Committee), Connie Hanna, Kathryn Blankley, Nancy Murdoch, Mary and Bob Griswold, Ryan Evans, Rick Hopkins (CCTA Chairman), and Hal and me.

The Academic Standards Review Commission met at 1 p.m., and I’m sure Kim will tell you about that. She remained for the entire session. The rest of us left during the break that occurred a little after 3 p.m. to meet Ed Stiles and a group from Americans for Prosperity so that we could attend the Certificate of Need (CON) hearing conducted by the House Committee on Health together.

 I do want to tell you about a short conversation I had with Representative Larry Pittman in the Academic Standards Review Commission meeting room during the break. Larry said that, while it’s too late to sponsor a bill, he’s thinking about how he might be able to propose an amendment to an existing proposed bill to move the process along. I wasn’t able to talk to him long, but I believe his opinion matches mine, and that is I’m afraid the Commission is getting bogged down and will not act decisively enough. If Larry comes up with something that will improve the situation, I’m sure Kim will want our committee to try to help.

When we met Ed Stiles and his group, we discovered that they have attracted some college students to participate. Our collective hats are off to him for that. We’d like some lessons in how it’s done!

The Certificate of Need (CON) hearing was on HB200, a bill sponsored by Representative Marilyn Avila that would remove several types of operating rooms (including those for ophthalmology procedures and colonoscopy) from the list of medical facilities which are required to apply for (a lengthy, expensive, difficult process) and get a CON before they can be set up.

It is our Legislative Action Committee’s position that hospitals have managed to have a monopoly on CON’s for years, have used them to shut individual physicians out of competition, and have used them to drive the cost of procedures up (people who pay for their own health care, and people who are experiencing higher and higher co-pays see this very clearly). This has resulted in higher salaries for some members of hospital staffs and very high retained earnings for some hospitals including the one here in New Bern.

The hearing was fast paced, enormously interesting, and did nothing to dispel our view.

Representative Avila introduced the bill, said a few words about it, and then explained that the group would hear from one person who was in favor of passage of the bill and a second person who was against it.

Connie Wilson, a lobbyist for a group of physicians, spoke first. She was followed by a lobbyist for a group of hospitals. They each spoke for about ten minutes.

Connie speaks fluidly. She’s very clear, concise, and straightforward. She builds her case with facts. She uses charm and humor. (Can you tell I was REALLY impressed?) She made the bill seem like the best thing to come along since sliced bread.

The fellow who spoke for hospitals used platitudes, veiled warnings about what “might” happen if some CON requirements were lifted, and tried to create fear. He did a respectable job for someone who had to defend an indefensible position, but I found myself constantly annoyed by things he said.

Then the questions began.

We’d been given to understand that 5 Representatives were of particular concern to folks who want the bill to pass, and every one of them was at the hearing, and each of them asked one or more questions that seemed to be from a negative perspective.

I’m going to tell you who each of the 5 is, what district he serves, what his contact information is, and then ask you a favor. Here they are…

Representative John Szoka is a Republican serving NC House District 45. His home is in Fayetteville. His office is in Room 2223 of the Legislative Building. His phone is 919-733-9892. His email is john.szoka@ncleg.net.

Representative Josh Dobson is a Republican serving NC House District 85. His home is in Nebo. His office is in Room 1006 of the Legislative Building. His phone is 919-733-5862. His email is josh.dobson@ncleg.net.

Representative Brian Brown is a Republican serving NC House District 9. His home is in Greenville. His office is in Room 604 of the Legislative Office Building. His phone is 919-733-5757. His email is brian.brown@ncleg.net.

Representative Kelly Hastings is a Republican serving NC House District 110. His home is in Cherryville. His office is in Room 1206 of the Legislative Building. His phone is 919-715-2002. His email is kelly.hastings@ncleg.net.

Representative Nelson Dollar is a Republican serving NC House District 36. His home is in Cary. His office is in Room 307-B of the Legislative Office Building. His phone is 919-715-0795. His email is nelson.dollar@ncleg.net.

If you live in the district of one of these folks, please go to see them, give them a call, or email them (expressed in the order of preference), and ask them to support HB200. Do this as quickly as you can. This bill needs to be reported out of the Health Committee, be heard by 2 other committees, and be voted on on the House floor by “crossover” on April 30 in order to remain viable.

If you don’t live in one of these districts, but know someone who does, please forward this to them along with your personal request for their help.

Thank you so much for your help.

In order to deserve and get good governance, we the people need to elect good and honorable representatives, and then watch them like hawks. Let’s not let ourselves and our progeny down.

Respectfully submitted,


(Raynor James, Chairman, CCTA’s Legislative Action Committee)



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