Tragic events in our community have made it clear: shortages of mental health services have reached a crisis point.

So why do we still have monopoly laws that block the expansion of mental health services? It is time for reform — and Rep. Laurel Libby has submitted legislation in Augusta to make a difference.

Here in Maine, to expand or add new health care services, providers must receive a so-called “certificate of need” from the state. To get this certificate, both the government and their potential competitors must certify that there is a “need” for more services.

Can one imagine if Verizon had to get permission from AT&T to put up more cellphone towers? Does any business ever think there is a “need” for more competition? What would they say? Obviously, they’d say “no.” Why would they want more competition?

According to the Institute for Justice, states without these health care monopoly laws experience, on average, more access and lower prices for health care services than states with them. When it comes to mental health services, lack of access has become a danger, not only for those in need of help, but also for everyone else.

Rep. Laurel Libby’s legislation would repeal certificate of need requirements for mental health services in Maine, increasing access by eliminating expensive and arbitrary barriers.

The recent tragedy was a wake-up call. It’s past time for reform.

Let’s repeal the monopoly law on mental health services so people can get the help they need.

Arthur Wing, Auburn

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