The Virginia Certificate of Public Need (COPN) program requires owners and sponsors of identified medical care facility projects to secure a COPN from the State Health Commissioner prior to initiating projects such as general acute care services, perinatal services, diagnostic imaging services, cardiac services, general surgical services, organ transplantation services, medical rehabilitation services, psychiatric/substance abuse services, mental retardation services, lithotripsy services, miscellaneous capital expenditures and nursing facility services. The program seeks to contain health care costs while ensuring financial viability and access to health care for all Virginia at a reasonable cost.
No certificate of public need may be issued unless the Commissioner has determined that a public need for the project, or portion thereof, exists and has been demonstrated. There are criteria or factors used in determining whether a public need exists. The criteria include: (i) the relationship of the project to the long term health care state plan, (ii) the need for enhanced facilities to serve the population of an area, (iii) the extent to which the project is accessible to all residents in the proposed area and the immediate economic impact and financial feasibility of the project.
The program uses a structured batching process in order to avoid unnecessary duplication of medical care facilities and services and to provide an orderly process for resolving questions about the need to construct or modify facilities or services. The application process and project review can take six to seven months to complete. The Certificate of Public Need Rules and Regulations provides specific information for filing an application.