SD7 - Reductions of Average Time for Certificate of Public Need Review (Chapter 1271, 2020)

Executive Summary:

The Commonwealth of Virginia maintains control over the supply of certain medical care facilities and health services through its certification of public need (COPN) program. Certain projects (e.g., opening a hospital, adding beds to a nursing home, etc.) require the project owner to demonstrate that there is a public need for that specific project before the project can be commenced. Depending on the project, it may be eligible for an expedited review process. The process of reviewing COPN applications can be a lengthy one. The General Assembly directed the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) to develop recommendations to reduce the duration of the average review cycle for the review of a COPN request to not more than 120 days. VDH is recommending the following changes to the COPN program to achieve an average review cycle of 120 or fewer days from receipt of the Letter of Intent (LOI) to the State Health Commissioner’s (Commissioner) decision:

1. Reduce the time between the LOI and application submission from 30 days to 14 days, which is a reduction of 16 days.

2. Reduce the time between the application submission and start of the review cycle from 40 days to 5 days, which is a reduction of 35 days.

3. Reduce the time for staff review of COPN applications from 70 days to 65 days, which is a reduction of 5 days.

4. Reduce the time between an informal fact-finding conference and the close of the record from 30 days to 28 days, which is a reduction of 2 days.

5. Reduce the time between the close of the record and State Health Commissioner’s decision from 45 days to 40 days, which is a reduction of 5 days.

6. Expand the types of COPN requests that are eligible for expedited review to include non-competing requests with capital expenditures below the statutory threshold from existing medical care facilities to increase capacity in an existing service through the addition of:
a. medical/surgical beds;
b. hospice beds;
c. psychiatric beds;
d. rehabilitation beds;
e. cardiac catheterization laboratories;
f. operating rooms;
g. computed tomographic imaging machines;
h. magnetic resonance imaging machines;
i. positron emission tomography machines; and
j. linear accelerators.

Implementation of these recommendations would require certain amendments to the Code of Virginia and to the Virginia Medical Facilities Certificate of Public Need Rules and Regulations as described herein.