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Fort Wright city council votes to support a House bill that is a certificate of need exemption

By Patricia A. Scheyer
NKyTribune reporter

Fort Wright city council voted this week to support HB 312, a certificate of need exemption.

“I think everyone understands we have a large hospital organization in Northern Kentucky,” said Mayor Dave Hatter. “There hasn’t been competition on a large scale because of this certificate of need concept. As you all know, within the city limits of Fort Wright, we have this Christ Hospital site which is doing a lot of good work over there, and frankly they generate a lot of tax revenue for the city.”

Photo by Patricia Scheyer

Hatter tried to choose his words carefully.

“I felt like in order to help support those organizations that have chosen to locate here in Fort Wright we should probably indicate our support for this bill which will create this certificate of need exemption and allow other organizations to move into Kentucky, and Northern Kentucky in particular,” he continued.

City Attorney Tim Theissen took over explaining the bill, saying ordinarily if a medical facility was trying to locate in an area, they would have to go through a hearing in Frankfort to approve it as an exemption to the certificate of need.

The bill reads:

“This statue is to amend KRS 216 B to exempt any group of three contiguous counties from obtaining a certificate of need if each county borders another state, and each county has a population of 90,000 or more according to the most recent federal decentennial census.

He added that the group of health organizations include health and medical services, hospitals and nursing homes. Theissen also said that the bill appears to have been written expressly for the Northern Kentucky counties of Boone, Kenton and Campbell.

Mayor Hatter asked if he knew why the bill was so skewed to Northern Kentucky.

“I don’t know that, other than they decided to propose the statute this way rather than to undermine the entire certificate of need program, but to take it out of the state government’s purview to decide whether or not Northern Kentucky can get another hospital provider,” said Theissen. “Rather than make it a statewide thing and upset the apple cart, its just like we will only upset the apple cart in these three counties and do it the way we want to do it and if all three counties agree that this makes sense, then we can allow a hospital to come in without the process of being approved by Frankfort.”

Hatter said the resolution that they proposed would be to let the legislators in Frankfort know that the city of Ft. Wright approves of the bill and are in favor of it.

Councilman Jay Weber asked if the city will also send it to Kenton County to let them know about their approval, and Hatter said he sends it to everybody.

Councilman Scott Wall said the company he works for does a lot of business with the existing medical facility and he wanted to abstain from the vote, which Hatter said was perfectly fine.

The other five members voted yes and the resolution to support HB 312 passed.

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