The author traces the development of public and private hospitals. In particular, the Article looks at the changing role of the hospital and the development of federal legislation. Next, the author reviews the functions of the public hospital, which include providing care for the poor, prisoners, psychiatric patients, trauma patients, and addicts. A public hospital also has the role of providing emergency and trauma care, while serving a role in disaster management and as the training grounds for the next generation of medical professionals. The closure of public hospitals has become frequent and it does not appear that the current private hospital system is willing or able to care for those patients served in public hospitals. Unless the government plans rationally for the nation’s healthcare future, it is nearly certain that some patients’ health will not be economically feasible.



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