The Mississippi State Board of Health’s Certificate of Need Committee met Monday and voted to recommend a change to the state’s health plan to allow an additional adult rehabilitation facility in the Jackson metro area.
The committee voted unanimously to start the process for state Department of Health staff to draft new regulations that will supersede the existing ones that artificially constrain the number of rehabilitation facilities in the metro.
The committee can make recommendations to the full state Board of Health which will then vote on the new regulations.
At present, the state’s health plan requires an adult rehabilitation facility that deals with spinal cord injuries, congenital deformities and or brain injuries to be located 45 miles or more away from an existing facility. Any existing facility has effective potential veto power over the building of a competitor. Each facility was also required to have a minimum of 60 beds.
“The data says there is a need for more beds,” Board member Jim Perry said. “A lot of patients that would be best served by being in an adult rehab setting instead are staying in hospitals or nursing homes, which is not exactly the best place for a stroke patient or a traumatic brain injury patient long term with the need for more specialized care.
“The 45-mile limit seems very arbitrary to me.”
Dr. J. Edward Hill, the committee vice chairman, said he wasn’t a fan of the CON and thought the free market should determine the need. He also didn’t like the 45-mile and 60-bed requirements.
The committee also unanimously voted to start the process for MSDH staff to draft new regulations on mobile radiation therapy and positron emission tomography providers that would also require full board approval.
The possible mobile radiation services regulation would allow one mobile provider for each of the state’s Supreme Court districts. The mobile unit would also not be able to operate within 25 miles of an existing radiation therapy facility.
“Most states allow this, and we would be late to this technology,” Committee Chairman Dr. Lucious Lampton said. “The proposed changes would allow us to engage this technology in a minor way without opening up the floodgates that opens up things for rural citizens and increases access to care.”
The committee will utilize feedback from an existing state-chartered advisory group of radiation therapy specialists before the MSDH drafts new regulations.
Lampton said he wants the plan within four weeks.
The committee also will look at allowing mobile PET providers that are part of a major hospital and provide services at one of those facilities. An advisory group of providers like those with the mobile radiation therapy issue will submit guidance to the committee on what regulations are needed. The plan is for guidance for both mobile radiation and PET to be available for voting at the January meeting of the state Board of Health.
Mississippi is one of 35 states that require a certificate of need for healthcare providers. They must receive approval from the MSDH to construct a new facility, add beds or diagnostic equipment to an existing facility, or even when a capital project goes over budget.
The health plan provides standards and criteria for the state’s CON program and provides a roadmap for the committee and the state’s health officer, Dr. Thomas Dobbs, to determine whether a facility or addition is congruent with the plan.