- The Washington Times - Friday, November 22, 2002

The Williams administration and the D.C. Council are in a tight political spot. Two privately owned hospitals are on life support because their owner filed for bankruptcy. One of those hospitals, Greater Southeast Community Hospital, took over outpatient and trauma services after the city closed its public hospital in May 2001 so indigent dependency is strong. The Washington Post's editorial page, unsurprisingly, concluded in a Nov. 20 editorial, "An Urgent Case," that "Worried hospital staff, patients and city taxpayers need answers and reassurances and fast." Well, the mayor's rapid response to The Post offers neither answers nor reassurances.

The fundamental problems with the District's health-care system are politics and management liberal politics and mismanagement, to be precise. Liberal politics pushed forward the domestic-partnership, free abortions, drug-treatment-on-demand and needle-exchange policies that have weighed enormously on public coffers. Increased enrollment in the city's medical-insurance program and expanded services at neighborhood clinics mean additional costs, as well. On the management side, longstanding problems were so acute that city officials disbanded the public-health management agency, reorganized it, closed the public hospital, reorganized the clinics and contracted emergency services to Greater Southeast. While all those so-called reforms were taking place, the city helped financially to bail out Greater Southeast with tens of millions of dollars.

Now, here we are again. "As this situation evolves, please know that the District government is taking a proactive and supportive role in helping sustain Greater Southeast and Hadley Memorial Hospitals through this difficult period," the mayor said yesterday. "I am committed to doing all we can."

It is hoped that that commitment is to taxpayers in the nation's capital, who expect their newly re-elected mayor and council members to devise and administer an efficient health care system. To that end, officials must first admit that their liberal health care policies have failed before they can develop new solutions to old problems.

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