To the Editor:
The Southern Illinoisan's article on new taxpayer dollars (more than $25 million) available to federally qualified health centers in Illinois to expand COVID-19 testing includes an important fact from the Christopher Rural Health CEO. She says a disposable gown that used to cost about 20 cents is now costing as much as $20 as an example of inflated supply costs.
This is horrifying, reminiscent of the $600 toilet seats and $400 hammers bought by the Pentagon in the 1980s. Unfortunately, you can search Pentagon overcharges and still read stories of 1,000% to 4,000% profits. While that might partially explain why we spend upward of $750 billion a year on the military, it represents a distorted vision of what keeps us safe. The military, especially weapons manufacturers, takes up around half of our ballooning federal budget while we have continually taken money out of public health, education, food and environmental programs, etc. to our detriment.
So, a $20 gown represents “war” profiteering, directly transferring sorely needed taxpayer dollars to corporations controlling the supply of critical PPEs and testing supplies. Profiteering should be illegal and should be controlled, including for taxpayer supported research on treatments and a vaccine. Excess profits by drug companies, medical supply companies and insurance companies rob the critical government services and the safety net we need.