Attempts to regulate capitalistic forces impacting the public interest go back a ways--think Civil War and earlier. If we think like a paleontologist examining a rock formation--the marker of interest would definitely identify the advent of the railroad and The Granger Laws as an important discovery.
In regard to rate setting, the Granger cases were argued before the Supreme Court in 1876 and 1877. Railroad companies were in the habit of charging preferential freight rates and storage rates to their larger customers. The Supreme Court declared that railroads were businesses "affected with a public interest" and as such, "must submit to be controlled by the public for the common good".
Laws were written to protect the consumer or public from discriminatory rates establishing a precedent for private businesses that served the public interest. What protection are we granted from Pay for Delay Laws that allow pharmaceutical companies to delay access to generic drugs--as just one example.
You can see parallels between the escalating costs of healthcare where profit leads the debate. We lose much when we fail to reflect on history and potential solutions for the long-term.
The Interstate Commerce Act of 1887 was made law with the support of both major political parties and of pressure groups in all regions of the country. The main provisions of the law, all of which applied only to railroads, were these:
There is a long rich history of establishing public interest and allowing the federal government to come to the aid of the public even when dealing in the corporate or private enterprise framework. How long will the public be subjected to capitalistic "whatever the market will bear" pricing of their health and ultimately their quality of life? Perhaps what we need is a "lightbulb moment".
"The public utility idea is one that has worked before," I said. My grandmother lives in the middle of nowhere. Do you think the power company wanted to run powerlines out to her house? Do you know how much it cost for them to put electricity in rural America?
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In a world of "evidence-based" medicine I am a bigger fan of practice-based evidence.
Remember the quote by Upton Sinclair...
“It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!”
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