Frequently Searched

Defending Medical Innovation—and Economic Freedom

March 4, 2016

Goldwater Institute lawyers today filed a brief in the Georgia Supreme Court, in support of our challenge to the state’s anticompetitive Certificate of Need (“CON”) laws for hospitals. Our clients, Doctors Hugo Ribot and Malcolm Barfield, want to expand their highly respected OB/GYN outpatient surgery center in Cartersville, Georgia—more doctors and operating rooms mean better access to care, lower costs to patients, and more charity care. But Georgia’s CON laws make it illegal for qualified doctors to expand their facilities or let other doctors use their facilities if existing hospitals object.  You read that right: before expanding their operations, Doctors Ribot and Barfield have to ask permission from their own competition. That’s why some courts have called them “Competitor’s Veto” laws.

The Georgia Supreme Court has already held such “Competitor’s Veto” laws violate the state constitution. But they remain on the books today, increasing patient costs and keeping much-needed medical care off the market.

Since opening in 2010, hundreds of minimally invasive outpatient procedures have been performed at Ribot and Barfield’s surgery center—all with an outstanding record of safe and efficient patient care.  But Georgia’s CON law allows only Doctors Ribot and Barfield, and their full-time employees, to operate at the center.  When they asked the government for permission to let other OB/GYNs to operate there, three existing hospitals objected, claiming there was no “need” for more competition. That’s why we went to court: government bureaucrats and existing businesses shouldn’t be in charge of deciding what patients and doctors “need.”

The trial judge rejected the government’s request to throw our case out, but, recognizing the importance of the lawsuit, he allowed the State to immediately appeal to the Georgia Supreme Court.  The Court is expected to decide by April 18 whether it take up the case.

As Americans struggle with rising health care costs, the last thing we need is for government bureaucrats and politically well-connected businesses to block the competition that lowers prices and improves services in every other area of the economy.  Dr. Ribot and Dr. Barfield should have the freedom to run their surgery center in the way that best serves their community—without having to get their own competitors’ permission to offer better, less expensive care. Georgia’s Constitution protects their right to do that; now it’s up to the Georgia Supreme Court to enforce that right. 



More on this issue

Donate Now

Help all Americans live freer, happier lives. Join the Goldwater Institute as we defend and strengthen freedom in all 50 states.

Donate Now

Since 1988, the Goldwater Institute has been in the liberty business — defending and promoting freedom, and achieving more than 400 victories in all 50 states. Donate today to help support our mission.

We Protect Your Rights

Our attorneys defend individual rights and protect those who cannot protect themselves.

Need Help? Submit a case.

Get Connected to Goldwater

Sign up for the latest news, event updates, and more.