The Corporate Transformation of Health Care: Can the Public Interest Still Be Served?

The Corporate Transformation of Health Care: Can the Public Interest Still Be Served?

The Corporate Transformation of Health Care: Can the Public Interest Still Be Served?

The Corporate Transformation of Health Care: Can the Public Interest Still Be Served?

Synopsis

The author explores how the corporate transformation of hospitals, HMOs, and the insurance and pharmaceutical industries has resulted in reduction in services, dangerous cost cutting, poor regulation, and corrupt research. He sheds light on the political lobbying and media manipulation that keeps the present system in place. Exposing the shortcomings of reform proposals that do little to alter the status quo, he makes a case for a workable single-payer system. This is an essential read for today's practitioners, policy makers, healthcare analysts and providers, and all those concerned with the precarious state of America's under- and uninsured.

Excerpt

In 1980 Dr. Arnold Relman, then editor of The New England Journal of Medicine, coined the term [medical-industrial complex] and warned of its potentially corrosive effects on health care and health policy. Several years later, study groups within the Institute of Medicine questioned whether investor-owned health care would end up serving the public interest, corporate self-interest, or both. Today we know that a quiet revolution has taken place, although the changes have been too gradual for many to appreciate.

Control of our health care system has shifted over the last 30 years from health professionals and not-for-profit interests to a relatively small number of large health care corporations that are now firmly embedded throughout the health care system. These range from managed care organizations, hospitals, nursing homes, dialysis centers, and medical supply and equipment companies, to a myriad of invisible administrative corporate functions. Many studies which have examined the track records of investor-owned health care corporations are now available. As a result, there are now answers to many concerns raised in the 1980s, such as problems of overuse and fragmentation of services, overemphasis of the business side of health care, and [cream skimming] by commercial interests. As this book will document, the answers are not promising, they call for major reform.

This book has four main goals: (1) to examine the extent of corporate transformation across eight health care industries within the medicalindustrial complex; (2) to consider whether this transformation serves the public interest; (3) to assess the impact of these changes on health care costs, on access to and quality of care, and on sustainability of our market-based system; and (4) to consider options for system reform given current political and economic realities. In view of these goals, the focus of this book must necessarily be broad. It cannot be encyclopedic, but will seek out and make sense of credible and up-to-date sources which collectively shed light on questions raised in the 1980s about corporate health care.

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