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North Star Radiology in Fairbanks, Alaska, has filed for a state certificate of need—more than two years after it opened.

The clinic’s owners hadn’t previously filed because they didn’t think they needed to, according to the online news site Alaska Dispatch, which is based in Anchorage. They still don’t think so, Alaska Dispatch reported Monday. However, said Mark Tournie, an administrator for the owners, “If we did not seek a CON, we feared that the state would seek an injunction, which might have meant we would have to close.”

Tournie works for Skagit Radiology, based in Mount Vernon, Washington. Skagit, owned by 16 radiologists, controls North Star Radiology. Tournie said in an e-mail to Alaska Dispatch that the dispute centers on whether North Star, which opened in July 2011, is an office of private physicians:

All of our doctors are licensed in Alaska, and we have no laymen owners, so we are just as confused as to why we would be forced to apply for a CON. It’s like saying because our tools of trade (stethoscope vs. CT scanner) are more expensive than a general practitioner[‘s], we arbitrarily hold you, the radiologist, to a different standard.

Alaska’s certificate of need law exempts “the offices of private physicians or dentists whether in individual or group practice.”

Tournie said in his e-mail, “We have addressed the state numerous times affirming we are an office of private physicians. The state feels different.”

He said North Star applied for the certificate of need with the “understanding that we were not waiving our argument that we are exempt.”

The CON application says preventing North Star from operating would be “promoting anti-competitive and monopolistic activities.”

A public meeting for comments on the application was scheduled for this afternoon.

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