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Rep. Les Fossel (R-Alna)
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For Immediate Release

Date: 04/09/12

Legislature passes bill to simplify medical facility expansions

AUGUSTA - The Maine House and Senate today gave final approval to legislation that will help local hospitals and medical providers grow and create jobs.

LD 1909, which swept through the Legislature with overwhelming support, enacts the recommendations of a stakeholder group that met over the course of last summer. The panel sought to identify ways of streamlining the process for medical facilities applying for Certificates of Need (CON). A CON is a state-granted permit that allows a facility to expand by building an addition, adding new hospital beds or purchasing new, cutting-edge technologies.

Rep. Les Fossel (R-Alna), the bill's sponsor, said the measure will generate greater competition in the health care field and make it easier for small medical facilities to grow. "One of the major impediments to economic growth in Maine is the excessive red tape that businesses must navigate in order to create jobs," he said. "Maine people elected new leadership in Augusta in 2010 to find ways of cutting through this red tape to help employers thrive."

The reform is aimed at hospitals, nursing homes and specialty facilities such as ambulatory surgical centers. The changes include eliminating excessive reporting requirements and providing a simplified review process for many projects, while enabling the Department of Health and Human Services to update their rules more fluidly.

"Not only does this bill help to fulfill our promise to the voters by removing barriers to job growth, it also shows that by listening to each other and to our local businesses and constituents, we can avoid the kind of partisan gridlock seen all too often in Washington," Rep. Fossel added.

Last year, the prospect of reforming the CON process proved to be politically divisive. The Health and Human Services Committee decided to create a study group to recommend ways to tackle the problem of onerous requirements that had been ingrained in the CON application process for years.

"The list of recommendations that the study group came up with bring a sweeping reform to the way private employers in the medical field deal with state government," said Rep. Fossel, who served on the panel. The study group also included health care providers and their representatives, the Maine Medical Association, Maine Hospital Association, Maine Health Care Association, non-profit and long-term care providers and a physician-owned specialty practice.

"This kind of bill is very technical. It doesn't always make headlines, but it makes Maine a better place," said Rep. Fossel. "I'm glad we all came together to do something positive for the people of Maine." ###

Jay Finegan
Maine House Republicans
Tel: (207) 287-1445