Jun 1, 2020
A lack of access to quality medical care is a big reason black Chicagoans have been dying of COVID-19 at six times the rate of white Chicagoans. Many of the hospitals that served them were already in deep financial crisis before COVID-19. Four struggling South Side hospitals had announced a plan in January to try to survive: they requested state funding to merge and establish an integrated health system, replacing their outdated facilities and setting up community health centers.
Given all the lip-service the Democratic Party politicians who run Illinois have been giving to improving health care for under-served populations in this crisis, this project would seem like a no-brainer. But the state legislature didn’t even discuss it.
As a result, instead of the planned improvements, the heads of these hospitals said the lack of state funding “will force hospital closures, cause further service cuts and push access to care even further out of reach for the families we serve.”
There is money for hospitals in the bailout bills passed by the U.S. Congress, but it’s being gobbled up by already rich hospitals. Twenty of the richest hospital chains in the country got 5 billion dollars, even though they are sitting on 100 billion dollars in cash reserves.
In health care as in everything else, the deliberate choices of politicians in both parties reinforce this system that makes the rich get richer, and leaves the most vulnerable to die.