A state board has finally approved long-standing plans for a new outpatient facility in Cedar Rapids and a psychiatric hospital in Bettendorf.
For the past two years, a Tennessee-based firm called Strategic Behavioral Health has been trying to get approval from state regulators to open a 72-bed psych hospital in Bettendorf. On Thursday, the Iowa Health Facilities Council finally voted to green-light the project over the objections of two existing hospitals in the Quad Cities. Advocates of the new facility say there’s a growing need for the kind of in-patient psychiatric care the hospital will provide.
On Wednesday, the Iowa Health Facilities Council approved a Cedar Rapids eye doctor’s plan to open an outpatient surgery center. The council had denied four previous applications. Dr. Lee Birchansky has tried for nearly 20 years to expand, but the Iowa Health Facilities Council rejected his previous applications after objections from Cedar Rapids hospitals.
In June, Birchansky sued the Iowa Health Facilities Council, arguing it denies his patients’ access to lower-cost alternatives by protecting the health care market for existing facilities. The group that took on his case today announced plans to continue with that lawsuit, in hopes of getting rid of the State of Iowa’s “certificate of need” process altogether. The Institute for Justice argues it’s a regulatory “permission slip” that keeps competitors from entering the health care system.
Non-profit hospitals argue that without regulation, new for-profit competitors will cherry-pick the healthiest patients with the means to pay — and non-profit facilities will be saddled with patients who can’t pay for their care or who have their most expensive, complicated conditions.