Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Privatization of Health Care

5/29/2014—My wife and I are on a family visit/vacation trip, including a wonderful wedding last week, so this blog has not been attended to. But it is impossible not to notice the continuing fighting going on in Pittsburgh between UPMC and Highmark. UPMC intends not to renew the agreement between the two healthcare systems, so that people with Highmark insurance will simply not have access to UPMC facilities.

The genesis of this fight is the decision of Highmark to partner with the Allegheny Health Network so as not to be subject to a hospital monopoly by UPMC when West Penn and Allegheny General Hospital were having financial trouble. UPMC now considers Highmark a hospital system rival and says it will not deal with it.

I suppose that this would all be understandable if these were two private businesses. But they are not. Not only is there a lot of public money involved, so that both businesses should be subject to public oversight, both are tax exempt non-profit entities. Neither one is supposed to be run with any profit motive at all and the Attorney General is supposed to be ensuring their compliance with the public good.

Some legislators are trying to pass legislation to force UPMC to deal with Highmark. But the legislature thus far has refused to act. Governor Corbett brokered a temporary deal but has not backed a permanent solution. There is a lot of loose talk about government not getting involved. But of course that is nonsense since these entities don't even pay taxes.

The relation of all this to hallowed secularism is this—the concept of the public interest is a part of all that religious talk that secularists say they don't like. This is an example of where naturalism/materialism actually leads--to self interest and nothing else. In the non-profit.charitable sector, we are talking about a role that churches used to fulfill. Churches bring their own problems—for example Catholic Charities does not want to place children with gay couples. But now we see the other side. The nonchurch nonprofits may just become money hungry businesses, like UPMC.

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