Driving across the country lately, a consistent sight has been evident in the buildings near the populated highway exits: Wal-Marts (What percentage of Americans live 30 minutes or less from a Wal-Mart? It must be above 80%) and new shiny hospitals and medical service buildings. And while the Wal-Mart buildings are “nice,” they aren’t anywhere near as “fabulous” as the new health care facilities.
Coming from Cleveland, Ohio, a city that has shifted from an economy dependent on a private sector industrial and manufacturing base to one heavily skewed towards revenue from Federally funded health care, I thought that the rest of the USA would look different. Yet newly constructed towering medical-industrial complex edifices are being built throughout the hinterland.
What people who “don’t want the Federal Government involved in their health care” fail to understand is the fact that about 50% of the revenue supporting their local new Taj Mahal level hospital comes from the Federal Government (mostly Medicare and Medicaid). Do the walls really need to be walnut? Is all that marble in lobby necessary for good medical care?
While the medical-industrial complex needs to be maintained and expanded to prepare for the demands of the 80 million strong Baby Boom demographic cohort, the money for that growth has to come from somewhere. Without the funds coming from Medicare (i.e. our tax dollars), little of this investment would be occurring…So if you’re looking for evidence of the Great Recession in your community, it’s probably best to ignore your local health care delivery businesses.