By staff writers

July 31, 2018 -- News site Vox is profiling the case of a North Carolina surgeon who is suing to overturn the state's certificate-of-need (CON) law because it is preventing him from buying an MRI system for an imaging center he operates.

Dr. Gajendra Singh of Winston-Salem wants to purchase a permanent MRI system to replace the mobile MRI coach that he rents twice a week. Singh opened the imaging center in August 2017 and advertises $500 MRI scans, according to an article published on July 31 on Vox.

But Singh's plans have run afoul of North Carolina's CON law after state regulators determined that another MRI system wasn't necessary in the area.

The Vox article characterizes CON laws as well-intentioned efforts that were in vogue in the 1960s and 1970s as a way of giving states the ability to rein in the unregulated proliferation of new technology. But CON laws now have the perverse effect of limiting competition against entrenched healthcare providers by making it harder for competitors to launch new services, according to the article.

CON laws have fallen out of favor, especially with the rise of today's philosophy that emphasizes market-based solutions to controlling healthcare costs. But North Carolina has kept its CON law on the books, so Singh has filed suit to overturn it, based on the argument that the law creates and preserves monopolies in healthcare by making it harder for competitors to open businesses.

Previous stories on Vox have targeted healthcare costs, such as an article in October 2017 about a California family that received a $25,000 bill for an MRI scan.

Family gets bill for $25K MRI scan
A California family received a $25,000 bill for an MRI scan in a case held out as an example of out-of-control medical costs in the U.S. in an article...

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