Bailed-Out CEOs Swim in Cash While Workers Are Furloughed; Rural Health and Global Budgets; U.S. House Virtual Panel

Public Citizen Has You Covered

Welcome to this week’s edition of “We’ve Got You Covered,” a weekly tipsheet designed to highlight key news about Medicare for All and call out the biggest health care industry lies and falsehoods about universal health care. Please send tips, feedback and questions to Mike Stankiewicz, mstankiewicz@citizen.org, (202) 588-7779.

BAILED-OUT FOR-PROFIT HOSPITAL CEOS GET MILLIONS WHILE EMPLOYEES ARE FURLOUGHED

A major consequence of the profit-driven health care system is that corporations prioritize corporate salaries and profits over patient health and their frontline workers.

After receiving a $1 billion coronavirus bailout from the federal government, HCA Healthcare, which made $7 billion in profits over the past two years, is laying off or cutting the pay of tens of thousands of doctors and nurses while its CEO is losing less than 1% of his yearly compensation, according to The New York Times. Similarly, for-profit Tenet Healthcare, which has received $345 million in taxpayer funds, has furloughed roughly 11,000 workers, while its CEO volunteered to donate a measly 1.5% of his $24 million compensation package.

Meanwhile, coronavirus patients are being hit with hospital bills that have ranged from hundreds of thousands to $1.1 million.

Under Medicare for All, global budgets, under which providers would be allotted a certain amount of funding based on their needs, would limit the ability of for-profit hospitals to profit and pay CEOs such massive salaries. The budgets also would limit the ability of hospitals to spend taxpayer dollars to lobby lawmakers and bust health care worker unions.

U.S. HOUSE PANEL ON CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC AND MEDICARE FOR ALL

Eagan Kemp, health care policy advocate for Public Citizen, joined U.S. Reps. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) and Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) last week in a virtual panel organized by the U.S. House Medicare for All Caucus that explored how the corporate-controlled health care system has failed Americans during the pandemic.

“The dual crises of COVID-19 and America’s legacy of systemic racism are further rending the enormous cracks of our broken health care system. Corporate profit and greed underlie the many challenges of our health care system as profit determines who gets care and who goes without,” said Kemp.

More than 44 million Americans have filed for unemployment since mid-March, and millions have lost their employer-sponsored health care in the middle of a pandemic – the worst time imaginable. Medicare for All would untie employment and health insurance, ensuring that everyone has insurance regardless of their employment status.

MEDICARE FOR ALL BUDGETING WOULD LIFT UP RURAL HOSPITALS

Rural hospitals often are the only providers available for many patients in rural areas, and their patients are more likely to suffer from public health challenges and lower admission rates. The for-profit health care system is putting many of these critical hospitals at risk; more than 170 have closed since 2005.

A new article in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) lays out how the added financial strain from the coronavirus pandemic has exposed that funding rural hospitals under the current fee-for-service model is unsustainable.

The authors argue that under a global budget, which Medicare for All would provide, hospitals would be given a more predictable stream of income and much-needed financial stability.

“The long recovery from the pandemic is likely to prompt reconsideration of how the U.S. finances rural hospital care,” the authors wrote. “With thoughtful planning and implementation, global budgets may have an important role in preserving rural hospitals and positioning them to adapt to changing community needs.”

REMINDER:

Amid the worst pandemic in a century and the worst economic downturn in decades, Americans are realizing just how broken the health care system is, and they’re demanding action.

Public Citizen is part of a coalition urging citizens to petition their local elected officials in cities, counties and towns from coast to coast to pass resolutions supporting Medicare for All. The coronavirus pandemic has galvanized city councils from New Orleans to Knoxville, Tenn. to Ann Arbor, Mich. to pass Medicare for All resolutions. And, last week, the town council of Pittsfield Charter Township, Mich., followed suit by passing a resolution as well.

This grassroots mobilization, community by community, is how we’re going to win Medicare for All.

To speak with a Medicare for All policy expert, or if you have questions about Public Citizen’s work, please contact Mike Stankiewicz, mstankiewicz@citizen.org, (202) 588-7779.