Washington Supreme Court Settles Long-Running Debate on Certificate of Need Regulations

The Washington State Supreme Court issued its unanimous opinion in Overlake Hospital Association v. Swedish Health Services. This ruling settles a long-running debate in the Washington medical community about how the Washington State Department of Health applies its Certificate of Need regulations when considering an application by an ambulatory surgery center for a certificate.

An ambulatory surgery center may operate without a certificate, but it is limited in that only physicians working in the group practice that owns the center are permitted to use the facilities. If the ambulatory surgery center desires to open its facilities to allow non-affiliated physicians and their patients to use its surgical facilities, the center must apply for and obtain a certificate from the Department of Health.

Because a key client of the firm, Proliance Surgeons, had an interest in the outcome of this case, Montgomery Purdue Blankinship & Austin PLLC attorneys Kristi O’Brien, Scott Easter and Ben VandenBerghe filed an amicus curiae or “friend of the court” brief with the Supreme Court in support of the position taken by Swedish Hospital. Our firm’s amicus brief was instrumental in the case, as the Supreme Court, in reaching its unanimous decision in favor of Swedish Hospital’s, and our client’s, position, adopted several of the key concepts and legal analyses identified only in our firm’s brief.