Deepening Health Care Crisis

December 2, 2013

Nationally, our country's health care system is undergoing rapid corporatization.

The restructuring of health care along the lines of managed care puts the drive for corporate profits ahead of the health and well-being of the people. Under managed care, health care providers are paid a fixed premium for each person enrolled. And since the aim of these corporate providers is to maximize profit, the managed care system has a built-in incentive for the provider to minimize the care available. Hospital stays are arbitrarily shortened, referrals to specialists are put off and needed procedures denied.

The government is accelerating this corporatization of health care by increasingly contracting out Medicaid and Medicare recipients to managed care networks. Federal regulations which allow states to opt for mandatory Medicaid managed care without federal waivers, have led many states to privatize Medicaid services and more are expected to follow. So too, Medicare is being privatized with a large percentage of beneficiaries already enrolled in managed care plans. In this way, billions of dollars of public monies, formerly earmarked for the health of the population, are being turned over to the private sector and converted into profits. Privatizing Medicare and Medicaid undermines the entitlement status of these programs, taking the delivery of health care for the poor and elderly out of the public domain. Under managed care, millions of recipients find themselves shunted aside and denied needed services.

With the profit motive in command, hospitals are understaffed because the owners seek to maximize profits by cutting back on employees which in turn endangers the quality of care.  There are many disastrous consequences. For example, many emergency medical facilities are already so overcrowded that some patients go untreated while others suffer severe complications as a result of long waits.  So too, some hospitals have developed a two-tier delivery system. Private, for-pay patients receive quality care while the under-insured find that vital procedures, access to specialists, follow-up care, etc. are delayed or denied altogether.

The privatization and corporatization of health care across the country confronts the people with a serious challenge. In our country, which has created a modern health care infrastructure, growing numbers of people find themselves paying more and more for health coverage but receiving less care. The "Affordable Health Care Act" will accelerate the process of corporatization as it guarantees a market for health care providers who will continue to have a built-in incentive to minimize the care available in order to maximize profits. Furthermore, more Medicaid and Medicare recipients will be contracted out to managed care networks. And obviously, with the profit motive in command, health care costs will continue to rise.

We say that a fundamental change is needed. We must no longer allow our country's health care infrastructure to be used to maximize profit.

Health care is a right belonging to every human being. We must put our country's vast health care sector in service of the people so that this right is guaranteed, free of charge, for everyone.