Suspend Certificate of Need Laws Now

Yesterday our Executive Director sent a letter to Governor Justice pleading with him to immediately and indefinitely suspend Certificate of Need laws in response to the COVID-19 crisis facing West Virginia.

Maybe you’ve never heard of Certificate of Need (CON) laws, but, in a nutshell, these laws require healthcare providers to obtain permission from the government before expanding their facilities, offering new services, or purchasing certain pieces of equipment.

These laws were originally passed in the 70s and 80s with the best of intentions. Advocates believed they would:

  • Ensure an adequate supply of health resources
  • Guarantee access to care for rural communities
  • Increase the quality of care, and
  • Restrain the cost of care


Unfortunately, time, experience, and 40 years of research have proven CON law advocates wrong. In fact, CON laws often do the opposite of what they were intended to do, hitting the poor and those living in rural areas the hardest.

In West Virginia alone, a 2015 study from the Mercatus Institute at George Mason University estimated that CON laws had resulted in “2,424 fewer hospital beds, between 4 and 7 fewer hospitals offering MRI services, and between 13 and 16 fewer hospitals offering computed tomography (CT) scans.” This is a result of West Virginia’s regulations on 21 specific services, higher than the national average, and place West Virginia in 6th place (out of 35 states plus the District of Columbia) for most burdensome CON laws in the country.




One of the best things Governor Justice has done for the state of West Virginia is to reduce regulatory burdens on medical professionals and business owners who have been hit especially hard by the coronavirus. But if West Virginia hopes to promote the safety and effectiveness of its healthcare providers, support small businesses that are struggling during this time, and help ensure a swift recovery for the state, we must suspend all Certificate of Need laws.

To read our press release click here.

To read our letter to the Governor click here.

Cardinal isn’t the only organization concerned about Certificate of Need laws in West Virginia. Americans for Prosperity’s West Virginia chapter has also released a statement calling for the suspension of CON laws.

If you’re interested in learning about other regulatory reforms that can help everyone during and after the COVID-19 pandemic, RStreet has published a list of additional recommendations.


Amanda Kieffer is the Communications Associate for the Cardinal Institute for WV Policy