Hospitals in Washington state argue in a lawsuit that the governor had no right last year to greatly expand what types of corporate changes need approval from the Department of Health.
Washington is among the three dozen U.S. states with laws on the books that require healthcare providers to prove a community need for a particular service before getting a permit for it. But changes ordered last year by Gov. Jay Inslee expand the certificate-of-need process to include reviews of hospital mergers, outsourcing of services and physician-employment changes.
“State agencies can't redefine what the law means after 20 years of interpreting the law the same way,” said Scott Bond, president and CEO of the Washington State Hospital Association, whose lawsuit against the state (PDF) cites 12 cases since 1992 in which the Health Department ruled that changes in corporate control didn't trigger certificate-of-need reviews.