The War on Medicine City

Letter From Pittsburgh

The bad news for Pennsylvania's economy is that the Clinton health care plan takes direct aim at the state's two biggest employers—the health care sector and the restaurant industry. Pittsburgh's single largest private employer is the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, a world leader in cancer research and transplant surgery with a staff of 12,000. Overall, one out of eight Pittsburgh jobs is now in health care. Pittsburgh "may always be known as Steel Town, but Medicine City would more accurately describe its economy today," said a recent New York Times article. It should be the Pittsburgh Medics, not the Pittsburgh Steelers. "No other metropolitan area," reported the 'limes, "has such a high proportion of health workers."

The job threat in the Clinton health care plan comes from its emphasis on preventive treatment and its shift away from expensive new medical technologies and specialties. Pittsburgh's organ transplants will take a back seat to home visits from para-nurses. And the D.C. budget-cutters aren't likely to fit Pittsburgh's hefty supply of hospital beds (about 3,000 of Pittsburgh's 10,600 hospital beds are vacant on any given night) into a health care scheme that relies heavily on outpatient care. "It's clear that the health care sector here will not be a major source of growth in the future if the Clinton plan goes through,"...

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