In response to:
The Medical-Industrial Complex from the December 17, 1970 issue
To the Editors:
The Ehrenreichs, taking a piggyback ride on our book, Men, Money and Medicine (NYR, December 17), advocate a “head-on confrontation with our political and economic system.” They believe that the reform of medical care will require: price controls, enforced planning, direct governmental operations, open admissions for third world students to medical schools, free care at the point of delivery, nationalization of the health products industry, decentralization of medical empires under worker and community control.
The effective rationalization of medical care would actually require many more radical changes than the Ehrenreichs delineate. It would mean thorough reconstruction of every aspect of the health industry, including education, organization and management, utilization, financing, patient involvement, professional and community control.
Let’s not sell the revolution short! But let’s not deprecate modest reforms while we wait for revolutionary solutions.
New York City
Barbara and John Ehrenreich replies:
Right on to the revolution in the medical, political and economic systems! We hadn’t realized you were with us on that. As for modest reforms in the meantime—we suggested a few, such as opening up the medical schools, decentralizing the health care system, and so on. Don’t sell reforms short. If they’re any good at all, they’re not a substitute for revolutionary changes. They’re part of the process.