In the 1970’s, my colleague Bill Kempiners was the sponsor of the Certificate of Need legislation.
He wasn’t getting enough votes to pass the bill and came over to ask me to change my vote. (There was an opportunity for people to explain their votes as the roll call was taking place, which gave sponsors time to make personal contract.)
Bill and I were pretty much the same age, among the youngest in the Illinois General Assembly. He appealed to our personal relationship and I yielded.
It turns out that it was one of the votes I am least proud of.
The idea behind this legislation was that health care costs would be decreased because too many or too large hospitals would not be built.
The concept that government knows best how to allocate resources went against my free enterprise grain then and it still does.
The process made a lot of money for attorneys connected with former Governor Jim Thompson and increased the cost of hospitals.
When I re-entered the Illinois House in 1993, one of my first bills was to abolish the board.
As we know from the Stuart Levine Crystal Lake Mercy Hospital vote fixing, keeping the board in place also led to outright corruption.
So now we have dueling hospital proposals in McHenry County.
Centegra wants to build one on Algonquin Road in Huntley, while Mercy wants to build one near Route 14 on Route 31.
And who will decide the winner?
State public health bureaucrats and their nominally independent board.
Let me give you one absurd argument used before the Illinois Health Facilities Planning Board, now renamed to protect the guilty.
Lithotripters were introduced while I was manager of the Bureau of Benefits in the Department of Central Management Services during the mid-1980’s. They crack kidney stones.
Hugely expensive, their placement had to receive a Certificate of Need in order to be purchased by a hospital.
In its demonstration of need, one of the Peoria hospitals included Lake County, Illinois, in its service region.
Completely ridiculous, considering such machines were already in Chicago.
Peoria got its lithotripter.
Who will get a new hospital in southern McHenry County?
Beats me, but letting Springfield bureaucrats make the recommendation makes as little sense now than it did when I was convinced to vote for the original legislation.
I favor letting the market decide.
One more comment.
Licensing is almost always put in place to protect those already in the business.
By its very nature licensing limits competition.