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Leading policy-makers and scholars explain how market forces, deregulation, and consumer choice can work to improve health care for all Americans.

Commentary

Let People Choose
David Gratzer, New York Sun, 8-11-05

Gratzer, a Senior Fellow at the Manhattan Institute, criticizes Congressional proposals that would protect traditional hospitals from competition by making specialty hospitals illegal:

People should be allowed to choose the hospital that best fits their needs and not be stuck with the hospital that Congress prefers. Yet a bipartisan coalition on Capitol Hill is seeking to deprive Americans of an important option: the specialty hospital. …
Specialty hospitals offer a rare bit of competition in the otherwise static world of hospital care. As Nobel laureate George Stigler once noted,” competition, like exercise, is universally noted to be good for other people.” Specialty hospitals may not solve all the woes of American health care, but they do present an important option. For the gentleman requiring heart surgery or the woman with a herniated disc, they offer an alternative to the large and (all too often) impersonal general hospital.
And despite their limited scope, specialty hospitals offer competition that’s a win for consumers. When the federal Medicare Payment Advisory Commission studied this issue in 2004, it noted that general hospitals tend to shape up when faced with competition, investing in better equipment and making operating schedules more flexible.

Competition—between hospitals or hot dog vendors—improves quality and price for consumers. If Congress is serious about improving America’s health care system, they need to encourage more competition between providers instead of trying to legislate it out of existence.



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