Unintended Benefits, Essential Health Care Services and COPN

Today, Virginia’s Certificate of Public Need (COPN) program fulfills roles never intended by the policymakers who instituted it more than 30 years ago. The
Commonwealth’s COPN program helps to ensure that all Virginians have access to essential health care services like emergency departments and obstetrical care. This is especially true for the uninsured and the indigent, who frequently are unable to cover the cost of the care they receive, and who may be unable to pay anything toward the cost of their care. The COPN program also helps to fulfill society’s need for more health care providers by ensuring that academic health centers can cover the costs of training tomorrow’s caregivers. Though none of these ends was an intended goal of the COPN program when enacted, no one should dispute that they are critical results of the program today. As policymakers consider health care, it is important to understand the variety of ways that COPN helps Virginians and the need to address these areas in any COPN changes.

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