This paper examines the political and bureaucratic dynamics of health regulation under the National Health Planning and Resources Development Act and, to a lesser extent, the Carter Cost Proposal now before Congress. A number of underlying issues that affect the day-to-day exercise of health planning are considered, including the contest between state and local and federal government for program control, jurisdictional conflict between state and local planning agencies, and the unsettled roles to be played by professional planners, consumers, and providers. When we assess regulatory policy in health, these complicating factors must be added to the long list of handicaps that already exist. One important finding is that local planning agencies have embraced the task of health regulation somewhat more fully than had generally been expected. A number of explanations for this are offered. In short, the controlling factors in health planning are political, not technical, and there is more occurring at the state and local levels than many had predicted, although any impact is not likely to be dramatic.

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