Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Jacking Profits by Fixing the Laws

Two widely disparate examples from today's batch of readings.

Mercedes [Clemens] has a thriving massage practice in Rockville that offers both human and animal massage. In addition to being a licensed massage therapist, Mercedes is certified in equine massage — a growing trade that calms horses, improving their temperament and making them easier to handle — and has even taught the practice to others.

In February, two politically connected groups decided to use their power to monopolize the practice of animal massage and shut down Mercedes’ business. The Maryland Board of Chiropractic Examiners, which licenses massage therapists who work on humans, joined forces with the Maryland State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners to threaten Mercedes with thousands of dollars in fines and criminal prosecution unless she spends four years in veterinary school — where massage is not even taught.

Can't say that I have a horse in that fight. But it's exactly what we see below, courtesy of P-Mac:

Congress is stirring against hospitals owned by doctors. St. Elsewhere preserve us, lawmakers beg, from doctors being in charge of doctoring.

This perennial rage about doctor-run specialty hospitals is practically the definition of special-interest legislation. It would use law on behalf of powerful incumbents to crush nimble competitors.

...Just after [Milwaukee Heart Hospital] opened, Congress temporarily banned any expansion, cutting off the hospital’s prospects. Wilson says Milwaukee-area hospital chains barred their physicians from referring any patients. Since hospitals here control most doctors by owning many group practices, this was fatal

There is no longer any question that the "hospital oligarchy/oligopoly" in SE Wisconsin is a leading cause of the highest health-care costs in the Known Universe.

The only remaining questions: 1) how much does it cost us, and 2) how many lives does it cost?

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