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

Pediatrics Not Profitable

Jan 9, 2023

Across the U.S., there is a shortage of hospital beds for babies and children. Resuming normal activities has meant society’s youngest are getting exposed for the first time to viruses like RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus), the flu and coronavirus. Children’s inexperienced immune systems can easily become overwhelmed and a huge increase in hospitalizations has resulted.

The shortage of pediatric beds is not only the result of more sick children. The shortage of life-saving healthcare for children is coming from a profit-sick society.

For a number of reasons, pediatric hospital beds generate less profit than adult beds. In general, aside from kids with cancer, children have less complex medical problems, so insurance reimbursement is less.

Also, due to the number of working families in poverty, 40% of children qualify for Medicaid, the government-sponsored low-income insurance. Medicaid pays 30% less than Medicare, the government insurance for older adults. To put it bluntly, providing joint replacement surgery under Medicare brings in way more money than admitting sick children under Medicaid.

The blind drive to maximize revenue is at the point where the number of hospitals offering any pediatric services is only two-thirds of what it was in 2000.

The American Hospital Association defends eliminating hospital beds for babies by saying that the U.S. government, insurance companies, and consumers want to curb rising healthcare costs. One parent begs to differ. The father of a critically ill child transferred 200 miles to the “closest” pediatric hospital bed in December said, “It seems like they are really not caring about the kids.”

Children are not mini-adults. Having smaller, special equipment and medical staff experienced in caring for children can make a life and death difference. A recent study found that cuts to pediatric care have reached the point that for 90% of children, the emergency room closest to them is not “highly pediatric-ready.” Why does this matter? Another study found that critically ill children are four times more likely to die if first seen in an emergency room with low “pediatric-readiness”.

How many sick children must die so that sick healthcare for profit lives?