The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Wealth over Human Health

Jun 15, 2020

Sixty of the largest U.S. hospital chains have received a total of more than $15 billion in COVID-19 related emergency funds from the federal government, despite the fact that they have collectively been sitting on $108 billion of cash reserves, while furloughing or laying off more than 30,000 workers.

These include world-renowned hospitals like the Mayo Clinic, giant private hospital chains like Hospital Corporation of America (HCA), Providence, Trinity Health, Beaumont Health and the Henry Ford Health System in Michigan, and so on and on.

In one case, HCA received about $1 billion in bailout funds. This huge hospital chain is worth $36 billion, made more than $7 billion in profits over the past two years, and paid its chief executive $26 million in 2019. HCA is now threatening its workers with wage cuts and layoffs.

In another example, the Providence Health System received at least $509 million in federal bailout funds, while it sits on nearly $12 billion in cash, and generates more than $1 billion in surplus per year. Because Providence calls itself a non-profit organization, it does not pay any federal, state or local taxes on that surplus.

By contrast, hospitals that serve low-income patients, rural hospitals, and small hospitals got almost no financial aid from the federal government. Most of these hospitals do not have enough cash to finance more than a few weeks of their operations. As a result, these hospitals could not provide much-needed healthcare to their patients, who are overwhelmingly the working class and poor. Many of these hospitals were forced to lay off much of their staff, and some are being forced to close.

So, the rich hospitals got the relief money. And the small hospitals got almost nothing.

The filthy rich owners, big shareholders or financial controllers of these wealthy hospitals operate these hospitals as a business to increase their wealth. To them, their profits are more important than the health of the patients and well-being of the hospital staff. And the rich are using the pandemic as another business opportunity to squeeze out more money from us. This is capitalism.