Monica O’Neal is lucky to be alive.
After enduring months of excruciating pain, the retired Atlanta grandmother visited her doctor, who determined that she had a tumor in her spine.
Her doctor recommended that a neurologist perform surgery immediately, but Monica lost access once her primary care provider closed its doors.
Despite having good health insurance, Monica could not find a neurologist to operate. Meanwhile, her health continued to deteriorate. She was in constant pain and could no longer sleep.
Fortunately, her daughter was able to drive her to an emergency room across the city that scheduled surgery.
According to Monica’s doctor, her situation is one that all Georgians are susceptible to because of laws that can prevent hospitals and even surgery centers from opening.
Georgia’s certificate of need (CON) laws often prevent communities from getting access to healthcare. For example, the City of Atlanta does not have a single surgery center south of I-20. Situations are typically much worse in rural areas. These laws hurt the people they were designed to protect. People like Monica.
The Georgia Public Policy Foundation recently released a study of CON laws. It analyzes the history, the rationale and the effects of CON. It found that CON reduces access and is especially harmful to vulnerable populations.