Wednesday, April 7, 2021

The Big Tech of Health Care - The American Prospect

The Big Tech of Health Care - The American Prospect Comment by Don McCanne UnitedHealth/Optum is BIG - the largest health care entity in the U.S. - representing that medical-industrial complex that Arnold Relman warned us about so many years ago. Well, it's here. And it is structured to make money - a lot of it - and patients just happen to be an essential element in their equation, but patient care is an expense. So much of what they do is to create administrative functions that are designed to reduce spending on patients, and, further, to increase revenues by selling those administrative services. By gaining control of much of the industry - hospitals, doctors, pharmacies, insurance functions - they are in a position to dictate the business terms for health care. So what will happen should we ever be able to enact and implement a single payer Medicare for All program? The model calls for negotiating rates with physicians, global budgets for hospitals and bulk purchasing of pharmaceuticals. How do you do that with a mega-corporation like UnitedHealth/Optum? Do you really think that they will accept government negotiations for payment rates for health care entities such as doctors, hospitals and pharmacies while not being paid for their large infrastructure that has been designed to increase revenues? Change Healthcare is a data analytics firm that is used to leverage higher revenues (profits, executive salaries, stock dividends and buybacks); it is not for the purpose of providing quality and value in patient care. Again, the entire corporation is structured to make money with patient services being a necessary expense that is to be minimized as much as possible. Will Medicare for All legislation be written in a way that we can remove passive corporate investors and excess executive salaries from the equation, thus essentially destroying the for-profit corporate structure? Would our conservative courts even uphold such limitations? Health care should be guided by a patient service ethic rather than a business ethic. Can we rein in the medical-industrial complex, or is it too late? The transition to Medicare for all will certainly cross paths with this corporate monster, and something will have to give.

No comments: