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Florida debates ending hospital-bed limits

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Morton Plant Hospital, in Clearwater, Fla., part of BayCare Health System.

In Florida, there’s a big political debate over ending limits on the number of beds that hospitals and nursing homes can provide  in specific areas.  The Tampa Bay Times reported that some provider warn such a change “could make it harder for patients in poor or rural areas to find good-quality care. Their doomsday scenario: Without having to ask the state for permission to build, companies would be drawn to wealthier areas where more of the patients have private insurance plans that pay hospitals more than Medicaid.”

As The Tampa Bay Times notes:

“When someone wants to build a hospital or nursing home in Florida or add beds in an existing facility, the state has to agree that their community has a need for expanded health care.”

“For years, Republican state lawmakers have worked to repeal the regulation {that mandates that providers get permission to add or subtract from an institutions size} — known by the three-letters CON, or certificate of need — which they say is anticompetitive and inefficient. This year, the political environment in Tallahassee may finally allow them to do so.”

“Repealing CON could create a two-tiered health system in Florida,” Clint Shouppe, a lobbyist who represents BayCare Health System, told the paper. “One for patients with good-quality insurance and one for Medicaid and charity care patients.”

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