Lexington, Kentucky; September 24, 2019: A federal lawsuit filed today challenges Kentucky’s Certificate of Need law for non-emergency ambulance services.
Phillip Truesdell is the owner of Legacy Medical Transport, a transportation business located in Aberdeen, Ohio. Legacy Medical transports people by ambulance in non-emergency situations; for example, because they’re confined to a stretcher or are undergoing dialysis. Because Legacy is located just across the river from Kentucky, it’s frequently called to take Ohio residents to medical appointments and other destinations in Kentucky. Under Kentucky law, it can drop customers off in Kentucky, but it cannot take them back to Ohio without first getting a “Certificate of Need.”
Certificate of Need laws allow the existing businesses to protest any application to start a new company and to require applicants to prove they won’t harm the financial interests of the current operators. They establish what’s called a “Competitor’s Veto” over startups.
Kentucky’s law isn’t about protecting public health or safety; in 46 other states, ambulance companies can operate without a Certificate of Need. The law blocks even highly qualified new businesses simply because they’d compete with the existing ones.
“My dad says that anyone with breath in their lungs should be able to start a business,” said Hannah Howe, Phillip’s daughter and administrator of Legacy Medical Transport. “It’s not right that these operators can keep us out. Like my dad when he bought his first ambulance, they all had to start somewhere too.”
Legacy Medical Transport is represented free of charge by Pacific Legal Foundation, which defeated a similar Certificate of Need law for moving companies in Kentucky in 2014.
“This law keeps entrepreneurs like Phillip out of the market solely to protect the interests of existing businesses, and that’s wrong,” PLF attorney Anastasia Boden said. “When existing businesses choose who can and cannot enter the market, everyone loses. Entrepreneurs lose their right to compete, and consumers lose access to new services.”
The case was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky. More information is available at pacificlegal.org/Legacy.
Pacific Legal Foundation is a national nonprofit legal organization that defends Americans threatened by government overreach and abuse. Since our founding in 1973, we challenge the government when it violates individual liberty and constitutional rights. With active cases in 34 states plus Washington, D.C., PLF represents clients in state and federal courts, with 14 victories out of 16 cases litigated at the U.S. Supreme Court.
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