Augusta Free Press

Kirk Cox: A free-market approach to the economy, healthcare

Recent reports about a squandered economic development project that used taxpayer dollars to incentivize a business relocation to Virginia has caused the House Appropriations Committee to more intensely review how the Commonwealth spreads money statewide to attract new businesses.

The Roanoke Times recently published reports about a failed company in Appomattox that took state money as an incentive to reopen a factory. Because the McAuliffe Administration failed to do their homework and the company was not fully vetted, $1.4 million tax payer dollars were wasted on this failed business deal.

Governor McAuliffe has already put $140 million new economic development dollars in his 2016-2018 budget. Be assured the House will work to ensure proper oversight is part of every economic deal to protect scarce taxpayer dollars.

We are looking to our partners in the private sector to help ensure a bottom-up, free-market growth and opportunity approach to securing new business deals. I’m carrying legislation to create the Virginia Growth and Opportunity Act that emphasizes this approach. This partnership can help vet and ensure our economic development dollars are spent wisely. Through this concept, regional councils are established to develop and examine local economic development grant proposals. These local business leaders are more knowledgeable about their specific regional industry needs. I am fully committed to protecting taxpayer dollars from waste and ensuring that we make wise and prudent investments.

Free market principles can also help ensue more cost effective health care. Virginia is one of 36 states with Certificate of Public Need (COPN) laws that were introduced in the 1970s to regulate healthcare services. Basically the laws require a provider to obtain a Certificate of Public Need in order to expand services or bring new equipment to their practice. These laws were meant to control costs and protect providers who offer charity care services to the community. Many now argue that COPN requirements reduce access to care and drive up costs by creating healthcare monopolies. The state bureaucracy determines what services are available and the circumstances under which they are offered.

I believe reforming or repealing the burdensome COPN regulations would promote free market principles like competition to help drive down costs and improve access.

Kirk Cox is a member of the Virginia House of Delegates.