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Judge to rule in dialysis CON dispute

MONTGOMERY COUNTY — A Hinds County judge will decide which of two companies can operate a kidney dialysis treatment center in Montgomery County.

The Mississippi Supreme Court ruled in February 2010 that the Department of Health lacked authority to extend approval through a certificate of need to Renal Care for almost three years to allow construction.

In 2004, when Renal Care received its certificate of need (CON), state law said it was valid for a year and could be extended for six more months. However, the Health Department extended it four times with construction beginning in 2007.

The Health Department denied Dialysis Solutions a CON in 2006 because Renal Care already had a certificate. Certificates are granted or denied in an effort to control costs.

“Their certificate of need had expired. It was void,” Terris Harris, an attorney for Dialysis Solutions, told The Clarion-Ledger.

Harris said Dialysis Solutions believes it is entitled to a restraining order to prevent the department from retroactively granting a CON to Renal Care.

Assistant Attorney General Chris Lomax argued in circuit court this week that if the Health Department improperly revoked Renal Care’s license, it could open itself up to a lawsuit.

“Renal Care Group has a valid certificate of need,” he said.

Harris said Renal Care didn’t move to start construction until after Dialysis Solutions filed its application.

The Mississippi Supreme Court noted in its decision that Hurricane Katrina impacted Renal Care Group Inc. facilities on the Coast and also facilities that were involved in negotiations that led to the purchase of Renal Care Group. Construction had to be put on hold until federal regulators approved the transaction.

Circuit Judge Winston Kidd gave all sides up to 20 days to provide written briefs before he rules on the motion for a preliminary injunction.

Source: The Clarion-Ledger

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