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Comments to the Virginia Board of Health on Access to Health Care

February 15, 2012

Recently, women’s health has been a topic of national news. It’s also made headlines in Virginia where the state government has taken steps that could effectively shutter many women’s health clinics.

But they may have veered off track legally.

Twenty-two clinics that perform five or more first-trimester abortions per month have been reclassified as hospitals, subjecting them to a host of new rules and requirements and putting them under threat of closure. These clinics provide a range of health care services including cancer screenings, vaccinations, blood work and regular physical check-ups from people who might not otherwise be able to afford care.

This reclassification would require clinics to overhaul their buildings’ layouts to increase operating room and hallway sizes. Construction would force them to close until they could secure new facilities.

But there is a legal problem: before implementing this regulation, the state government failed to take into account the costs and benefits and offered no possible alternatives—both are required by state law before the rule becomes permanent.

We submitted comments today to the Virginia Board of Health urging them to conduct a robust cost-benefit analysis before the rule becomes permanent next year. If they fail to do so, they will be subject to legal challenges.

Filed under Public Comments, Safety and Consumer Protection