PROVIDENCE – Gov. Lincoln D. Chafee signed into law legislation passed by the General Assembly that helps expedite the R.I. Department of Health’s certificate of need process for domestic “medical tourism” companies looking to locate in Rhode Island.
The legislation was developed to address attempts in 2013 by an out-of-state health care provider to obtain a home nursing care provider’s license and meet other requirements.
The law includes:
• A provision for consideration of an expeditious review request and requirement that a decision connected with that review be rendered within 30 days.
• Provision for an exemption from the certificate of need requirements to the domestic medical tourism industry and multi-practice health facilities.
• A restructure of the Health Services Council, reducing it from 24 to 12 members.
According to a news release, two specific matters arose that prompted a renewed focus on the certificate of need process.
Pennsylvania-based Pentec Co., a provider of specialized, in-home care to persons with implanted pain pumps, was directed to obtain a certificate of need, offering proof its service was wanted, affordable and safe. The company was also asked to open a Rhode Island office. After spending about $100,000 and seven months to obtain a home nursing care provider’s license, the company withdrew its application and terminated its Rhode Island services.
The Laser Spine Institute, which treats lumbar spine stenosis with minimally invasive surgery, had expressed interest in locating in Warwick. The institute said that typically 50 percent or more of its patients travel to its facilities from out of state, and some of them from out of the country. Because of that, the firm falls under a different sort of health services terminology – a domestic “medical tourism” industry – something not until now specifically addressed by Rhode Island law. •