Critical Condition

Another Danger from New ‘Health’ Agencies

Ronald Bachman, a fellow at the invaluable Georgia Public Policy Foundation in Atlanta, has a piece in the Athens Banner-Herald today that does a good job of explaining the dangers associated with creating a whole new set of federal grantmaking bureaucracies as part of any new federal “reform” legislation. Forget the stated intentions of the bill or the initial design of the reforms. Government bureaucracies have a way of growing and evolving in ways contrary to the public interest, and these new agencies would have particularly troubling grants of money and authority:

Questionable new grants and government activity include “community transformation grants” and “work force diversity grants.” Grant distribution essentially begins immediately – “not later than 60 days after the date of enactment of this section” – not even waiting until 2013, when the law would take effect.

Most grants seem to duplicate existing government agencies. The National Institutes of Health, the National Institute of Mental Health, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention already perform most of the needed health and health care research and functions the legislation proposes.

Some initiatives go frighteningly beyond traditional health care and into areas of city planning, home construction and transportation systems. Wide-sweeping “health impact assessments” are proposed on “the potential health effects of the built environment.”

“The term ‘built environment’ means an environment consisting of building, spaces and products that are created or modified by individuals and entities, including homes, schools, workplaces, greenways, business areas, transportation systems, and parks and recreation areas, electrical transmission lines, waste disposal sites, and land-use planning and policies that impact urban, rural and suburban communities.”

Health-care reform is a lever not just to give the Left more power over health care and fiscal policy at all levels but also over traditionally local matters of land use, resource, and transportation policy. They know exactly what they are doing. We should, too.