The problem with these handouts is that they are going to generate even less complaints than defense handouts do, because it’s a lot harder to get mad about $100 million for a health care facility than it is for a $100 million space laser or some failed helicopter project. I mean, who is going to complain about money going to medical treatment for workers exposed to asbestos in a vermiculite mine?
Similarly, can you picture anyone angrily declaring “the government is building another childrens’ hospital!? My god, this is what my tax dollars are going to? Curing diseases for children!?” And to a certain extent, there’s a good reason why few people would make that complaint; we obviously want to cure sick childrens’ diseases, and we want there to be enough health care facilities. But there is such a thing is too much of this stuff, and there is an unlimited supply of lobbying for it, which suggests to me that we will be getting quite a bit more than “enough” health care facilities in the future.
Has anyone coined the phrase health-care-industrial-complex yet?
"Medical-industrial complex" has been around at least since the 1970s, when Barbara Ehrenreich used it in the New York Review of Books. And it just keeps getting more relevant. As the country keeps getting bigger and richer, and the price tags of bills (particularly health-care bills) keep getting larger and larger, it's going to get even easier to tuck these sorts of goodies away. Children's hospitals aren't getting that much more expensive to build as time goes on, after all. That's part of the reason it would have been good to see Congress include a Federal Health Board that would take responsibility for some of these decisions. The Rockefeller-Lieberman-Whitehouse version of MedPAC would be a good start, too. Congress just isn't well suited to resisting these pressures.
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