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The state provides all

January 27, 2010

My wife and I just celebrated the birth of a beautiful, brown-haired boy. During the night, as I was waiting for nature to run its course, I walked around observing the maternity unit of our chosen hospital.

Though this was our seventh trip there, as I ambled about, something caught my eye for the very first time. There next to the door to labor and delivery was a framed license — an Ohio maternity license.

Wow, I thought. I hadn’t even bothered to verify that the hospital was licensed by the state. What if it hadn’t been? Caveat emptor, I suppose.

At home, with mother and child asleep, I looked up the licensing requirements. Upon review, it seems that I had been confused in the past. Where I once thought that the health care market (or pseudo market) provides for the wants of the patient, I now realize that the family waiting room and the amount of clear space was provided by Ohio law.

Thank goodness for the caring state. If those altruistic do-gooders hadn’t regulated maternity units, “Immediately accessible examination lights” would be nowhere in sight.

And if this requirement wasn’t law, hospitals would board the windows to the nursery, denying families the opportunity to observe their new additions sleeping away: “Observation windows to permit the viewing of newborns from public areas, workrooms and adjacent nursery rooms.”

Of course, you can be certain that the laws and regulations were not drafted to harm or inconvenience major hospitals. They were drafted to price competition out of the market — what little is left there.

So given that my hospital has a 24/7 Tim Horton’s, it only a matter of time before “immediately accessible warm food” become the next requirement. Because we can’t have expectant fathers eating from vending machines, can we?

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