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

Walgreens Drug Stores Reduce Hours in Poor Neighborhoods

Apr 2, 2001

On March 29, Walgreen drug stores announced that the pharmacy hours of 30 stores in the Chicago area would be reduced. These stores are in the poorest areas of Chicago, many in the South Side black community. The pharmacy sections of the stores, which previously were open to 10 PM on weekdays, will now close at 5 PM. And they will be closed all day on Sundays.

Better not get sick then if you live in one of these areas–either that or be prepared to take a long ride on public transportation, which runs less frequently on Sunday, while you’re sick.

Walgreens said it wasn’t getting enough money from the federal government and the state of Illinois to cover increased costs on Medicaid prescriptions. The governments said their budgets were overdrawn because of increased prices charged by pharmaceutical companies.

The federal government, of course, could have required the large pharmaceutical companies to reduce their prices. It could have increased its payments for prescriptions, as could the state of Illinois. Instead it penalizes the people without regular medical insurance, the elderly, the disabled, the working poor–the people most in need of government aid.

The federal government subsidizes most pharmaceutical company research–which the big companies then profit from. The state of Illinois finds money to subsidize race tracks and football stadiums. It provides hundreds of millions in subsidies to corporations. Both turn around, saying they have no money, and cut the reimbursement for Medicaid prescriptions and–surprise!–the for-profit drug stores like Walgreens cut their store hours.

Ironically, Walgreens made its announcement of reduced store hours just three days after it announced record profits. It intends to keep them high, so too bad for the people who live near its stores which have a lot of Medicaid business.

This is medicine and social protection under modern day capitalism.