By law in North Carolina, healthcare organizations are required to secure a Certificate of Need to add inpatient beds, operating rooms, and certain equipment like MRIs and PET machines among other things. The purpose of Certificate of Need is to prevent the unnecessary duplication of services in an effort to ensure access, cost effectiveness and quality. Certificate of Need has historically ensured access by requiring applicants to demonstrate service to medically underserved groups including the poor, women, and minorities.
Additionally, the government via Medicaid and Medicare are by far the largest payers for most hospitals in North Carolina. Certificate of Need reform is on legislators' radar screen to reform as are significant hospital reimbursement cuts from government run healthcare programs.
Changes to these laws and programs will have sweeping effects on hospitals throughout the state. Hospitals like WakeMed that serve as the safety net provider for the communities they serve and operate with slim four percent or lower profit margins are at the most risk.
There is a lot of opportunity to improve access to care through reforms to these programs, but even seemingly small changes to the healthcare reform laws will have sweeping consequences across our state's healthcare system. This is why WakeMed is actively engaging legislators, working to share how proposed changes will impact access to the medically underserved.