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(INDIANAPOLIS) – Hospitals are warning against an attempt to limit where they can build.

35 states require hospitals to prove there’s a need for a new facility before they can build. Indiana used to, but repealed the law 20 years ago. A Senate committee may vote next week on reinstating it.

Anthem Blue Cross/Blue Shield says Indiana’s health costs are among the highest in the country, and maintains clusters of hospitals are one reason why. The insurer says Indiana hospitals are at less than 60-percent capacity, yet hospitals are not only building more, they’re building close to each other, often in high-income areas. Anthem argues that pushes costs up.

Indiana Hospital Association president Brian Tabor contends Indianapolis Senator John Ruckelshaus’s bill to revive the “certificate of need” requirement would make it harder to put up hospitals which really are needed. Even if there are lots of hospitals in an area, he notes they don’t all offer the same services. He says the state health department has plenty to do trying to improve Hoosiers’ health and overseeing the quality of care in hospitals — he says approving new construction belongs should remain a local function.

And opponents argue there have been several studies of certificates of need, with no evidence that it produces the cost savings supporters predict.

The push to revive the law began with northside Indianapolis residents trying to block a proposed Saint Vincent hospital just across the county line in Carmel. It would be the seventh hospital in a five-mile radius, with an eighth on the drawing board.

Construction on an expansion of IU North’s existing hospital in Carmel (Photo: Eric Berman/WIBC)