David Barbee has waited for a chance to bring his company, HRP Nursing Services, into the home health field.
What's standing in the way is a certificate of need - a program that requires health care providers to get state approval before investing in new services.
His chance could come within the next few months, if Georgia lawmakers are willing: Rep. Ben Harbin introduced a bill Thursday that would exempt home health care companies from the certificate of need requirement.
"To me (the program) is the biggest swindle in the world," Mr. Barbee said. "We've got the infrastructure to do the job, but we're barred from it because of the certificate of need."
The certificate of need is intended to keep health care businesses from multiplying excessively. But some lawmakers criticized the program last year, arguing that the requirements stifle competition in the health care business and lead to higher prices for consumers.
Others defended the program as a defense against unscrupulous businesses that could enter such fields as home health care with a very small investment.
Mr. Harbin's bill is part of a growing trend among legislators to favor the laws of the free market over government regulation in the rapidly changing health care industry.
The bill has received mixed reviews in Atlanta, said Mr. Harbin, R-Evans.
"There's going to be some opposition from the home health companies," he said. "But some other companies aren't that worried about it because they feel they're already in a position to be competitive."
Janet Berhang-Doggett, clinical director of home health care for St. Joseph Hospital, said consumers could get better service without the certificates because of increased competition in the home health field.
"It doesn't scare me when they say they're going to eliminate (the program) because St. Joseph's has always prided itself on the level of care we give," she said. "Those that can't provide a high level of care will fail."