The Health/PAC Digital Archive is a complete collection of the influential Health/PAC Bulletin, which was published for nearly three decades until Health/PAC closed in 1994. Full-text searchable, it amounts to a documentary history of mid- to late-20th Century American health policy and politics.
Health/PAC originated in 1967 when Robb Burlage, a co-founder of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), studied the New York City hospital affiliation agreements that gave administrative and financial control of the New York City public hospitals to private voluntary hospitals and academic medical centers. Along with journalist and activist Maxine Kenny, he developed a systematic critique of the city health system, focusing particularly on parasitic relations between medical schools and their environs; hierarchical and undemocratic health planning; and emerging neighborhood health movements to alter it.
Health/PAC staffers and authors wrote and spoke to health activists across the country on every issue from free clinics to women’s health struggles to health worker organizing to environmental justice. The organization both reported on what was going on (before there was an Internet) and debated strategies and tactics to build a more just health system. It coined the terms “medical empire” and “medical industrial complex” to capture the ways the profit motive distorted priorities in the American health care system. Even as broader political foment in the country died down by the mid-1970s, Health/PAC remained and published important pieces on women’s health, occupational/environmental health risks, incarceration, Medicare/Medicaid crises, and HIV/AIDS, among many other topics.
Students will all find these Bulletins a source of useful analysis and information. This is not only a way to learn about late 20th century health history, but to consider why certain issues continue to plague our health system.
~ The Health/PAC Archives Workgroup: Merlin Chowkwanyun, Feygele Jacobs, Ronda Kotelchuck, Susan Reverby, David Rosner, Oli Fein and Robb Burlage