Brent Baranko: Medical-industrial complex corrupts our health care

In the 1980s, the Pentagon was paying $435 for a hammer and $600 for a toilet seat. Americans felt angry and betrayed. Their tax dollars were swallowed by the the military-industrial complex.

At a recent office meeting, fellow orthopedic surgeons and I discussed prescribing a new postoperative sling for shoulder surgery — foam, felt and velcro. Our office would be able to bill $600 to $1,000 per sling. The similarities to the 1980s are inescapable. The health care-industrial complex is corrupting the health of our nation.

This year, the federal government gave $5 billion in coronavirus bailout money to 20 large health care chains which had, collectively, over $100 billion in cash from private donations, hedge funds, private equity firms, and hospital-run venture capital firms. The New York Times reported that these “investment portfolios often generate billions of dollars in annual profits, dwarfing what the hospitals earn from serving patients.”

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