Though they were intended to ensure access to quality health care for all Virginians, critics say that, in practice, the laws have been used to limit competition and shut new providers out of the marketplace.

“COPN laws limit competition, which means fewer choices and higher costs for Virginia families,” said Del. John O’Bannon, R-Henrico. “Reforming COPN is the best way to improve access for patients, expand health care services and keep costs under control.”

O’Bannon on Monday announced a series of bills that would deregulate the state’s health care industry in three steps. Other Republican lawmakers offered similar proposals that will limit the state’s ability to control the market.

Speaker of the House William Howell, R-Stafford, supports the changes, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, which quoted the Speaker’s spokesperson.

The lawmakers’ announcement comes just weeks after a months-long review of the state’s COPN laws was completed by a special task force of industry executives and state officials.

The major takeaway from that review: more review was needed.

O’Bannon, a physician by trade, said the special task force did not go far enough. His bill, which he will introduce in early January, will make “a good-faith effort to update, reform and substantially deregulate the COPN process,” he told reporters on a conference call Monday.

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