The Certificate of Need Appeal Panel, the body of independent hearing officers charged with reviewing the Georgia Department of Community Health’s (the “Department”) initial decisions to approve or deny certificate of need applications, recently amended several of its operational and procedural rules (the “CON Appeal Panel Rules”). The amendments, among other things, increase the appeal filing fees, account for changes to certain controlling statutes, clarify who may appeal and/or intervene in an appeal, and streamline filing and service requirements.
Since the CON Appeal Panel was created in 2008, parties seeking to participate in an appeal of an initial decision of the Department to grant or deny a certificate of need were required to pay a filing fee of $1,500 for each application appealed. (CON Appeal Panel Rule 274-1–.04.) Under the new Rule amendments, the filing fee will increase to $7,500. While the increase is substantial, it is significantly less than the $15,000 amount initially proposed by the CON Appeal Panel in May 2022. After receiving comments and feedback from various stakeholders, the CON Appeal Panel determined that a smaller increase was warranted. The amendments also make clear that rural hospitals are not required to pay a filing fee in any amount when such hospitals challenge the Department’s initial decision to deny the hospital’s CON application. And the new amendments clarify that approved CON applicants may intervene in any appeal filed by an appropriate opposing party without paying an appeal filing fee.
The new amendments also strike language from certain rules that had become obsolete following the 2019 amendments to the Georgia CON statute and clarify who may properly intervene or otherwise participate in an appeal before the CON Appeal Panel. The remaining amendments to the CON Appeal Panel Rules are largely designed to reduce paper and duplicative filings. Pursuant to the new amendments, parties are instructed to file documents with the CON Appeal Panel or hearing officer over the Department’s web portal instead of filing at a physical address, and the rules now clearly permit service of such documents by electronic or regular mail.