The expected surge in coronavirus cases is slamming hospitals across the country, and they and the entire U.S. health care system will need major public support in difficult days ahead. Still, important markers also have gone down, so pillars of the medical establishment eventually may have to account for billions of taxpayer dollars they have been all but gifted already and why they charge sky-high prices for their medical services.

Noam Levey of the Los Angeles Times deserves credit for his reporting about the public largesse that already has benefited parties in the health care system. As he wrote:

“The Trump administration has pumped billions of dollars into the health care industry during the Covid-19 crisis, padding bottom lines at some of the country’s most profitable businesses even as millions of Americans have been left struggling with mounting medical bills. And although taxpayer money has poured into drug makers, hospital systems and medical distributors, administration officials have put few requirements on the businesses that took public assistance. Pharmaceutical companies could charge more for vaccines and treatments developed with public money. Medical distributors that received government assistance to air-lift supplies from China this spring were able to sell the material at undiscounted prices. And hospitals sustained with bailout money will be free to raise prices on patients for years to come.”