The Patients First facility was to cost $953,750 -- slipping right under the line in which a certificate of need would be required.
The opinion, penned by the Court of Appeals Eastern District's Chief Justice Kurt S. Odenwald, finds that St. John's Mercy had standing to challenge the exemption. But, as Odenwald writes, the hospital system ultimately failed to show why the exemption should not stand.
St. John's Mercy had argued that the exemption wasn't valid because it conflicted with a different regulation requiring all new hospitals to get a certificate of need. But Odenwald suggests that argument is silly on its face:
"[L]ogically, we can only conclude that had the legislature intended for all new hospitals to require a certificate of need, there would have been no reason for the 1997 amendment," he writes. "We do not presume the legislature to enact meaningless provisions."
We're not quite sure why Odenwald is so optimistic when it comes to the Missouri Legislature. (Really, has he seen the silliness coming out of there lately?) But surely, today's ruling is good news for health-care consumers. Since when is competition such a terrible thing?