Interview: Congressman Jim Banks on a bill to provide relief to states on COVID healthcare expenditures

Healthcare
April 30, 2020

Lawson Mansell

Policy Content Manager

H.R. 6336, the “Increasing Hospital Capacity to Fight the Coronavirus Act of 2020,” introduced by Rep. Dan Bishop (R-N.C.), Rep. Jim Banks (R-Indiana), and others would ensure states are not penalized by Medicare or Medicaid for necessary capital expenditures that “violate” suspended Certificate Of Need (CON) laws. The CON issue, which is included in the Palmetto Promise Healthcare Freedom Agenda, has become particularly relevant as coronavirus has forced state governments to create more flexibility in the healthcare regulatory space.

One of the many CON regulations in South Carolina involves getting approval for the addition of “one or more” hospital beds to a  healthcare facility. Palmetto Promise, worried about the potential for a backlog of these requests as hospitals will most likely have to adjust their hospital bed situation to increase capacity, raised the issue. Thankfully, Gov. McMaster has now temporarily waived all Certificate of Need laws, but not all states have followed suit.

H.R.6336 is critical because it would save states like South Carolina who have temporarily suspended CON from picking up the bill on healthcare expenditures that fall outside of CON directives. Our Senior Fellow Dr. Oran Smith caught up with one of the sponsors, his longtime friend Congressman Jim Banks of Indiana’s Third Congressional District (Fort Wayne area), who explained the importance of his bill.

Interview with Congressman Jim Banks

You can listen to interview here.

Thank you for what you’re doing and I was wondering if you could tell us about this piece of legislation that you’ve filed.

U.S. Congressman Jim Banks (R-Indiana): Yeah, you got it. And great to be with you by the way. It’s been a long time…but we appreciate your leadership for conservative principles in your great state.

Look, this is a common sense bill. H.R.6336 would eliminate government mandates that would prevent competition in the healthcare marketplace. And right now, we’re seeing more than ever the need for more medical facilities, more capacity, more hospital beds, in our communities, especially in rural communities during this pandemic. We need more not less, which is what the hospital monopolization trends have led to.

This bill that was introduced by Dan Bishop from North Carolina, myself, and other conservatives, would eliminate Certificate of Need laws at the state level that prevent competition at a time when we need competition more than ever.

Oran Smith, PPI Senior Fellow: That is very exciting. We sure thank you for taking this step and we’re working from that direction at the state level. Certainly stopping the feds from putting their thumb on the scale would advance our cause as well.

And we thank you for your service in Congress and also your service to our country. I know you did some training here in South Carolina when you were in the military and it was great to see you then, so thank you for your service.

U.S. Congressman Jim Banks (R-Indiana): Well I look forward to being back with you soon! Thanks for all you do, once again, for conservative principles on issues all over your state and that are important for our country.

You can listen to the interview here.