May 18, 2020
Maryland hospitals announced a drop in revenue, at least a billion dollars over the past two months of crisis. Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, with the largest number of beds, already said pay would be frozen, some workers might go on furlough, and the pension system would not get its contributions. In another region, Anne Arundel Medical Center, the largest hospital in its county, announced 1,100 furloughs.
Since the state has been under stay-at-home orders, hospitals have refused to do what they call elective surgery, including for patients with serious problems like cancer or diabetes or heart troubles. Most people could not see doctors unless they could prove they had an emergency.
In the first week of May, the governor said the hospitals could re-open for elective surgeries. In other words, despite cuts already imposed on the work force, these hospitals are concerned for their bottom lines. They call hospital workers “essential,” and arrange for them to get a round of applause. But then they lay some off!
While Maryland does not allow hospitals to run as for-profits, the state rules allow for income above expenses. Their CEO pay, their anti-union stances, their low pay for cleaners or food service workers, all their policies are like those practiced by businesses. State rules may call for community hospital health care, what used to be called charity, but hospitals are still allowed to hound poor people for repayment of bills.
It is a matter of life or death at this moment to recognize that society needs to provide services, health services, food services, education services, maintenance and repair so long neglected—and profit be damned. But it won’t happen under capitalism.