Sunday, February 24, 2013

Why there is no trauma center at University of Chicago

So there was another protest on Saturday at University of Chicago regarding the University’s decision to open a $700 million its new “Center for Care and Discovery”, but no trauma center. There is no trauma center because we have a hospital-industrial complex that, while masquerading as pillars of the community and as a “non-profit”, makes a lot of money by catering to certain segments of the population. There is no trauma center because hospitals are not designed to serve their communities but to serve themselves.
If there was any doubt at all about just how hospitals work it was put to rest in the extensive article by Steve Brill. The piece is long but it’s not exactly War and Peace, and it really needs to be read.  Short take, hospitals charge whatever they want, unless it’s Medicare, and those who have the least coverage or none at all pay the most. (Medicaid is handled more like Medicare but because is run by the states individual experiences will differ widely). Republicans typically emphasize “free markets” but for a “free” market you need a definitive price and a level playing field, and there is no more rigged market then the medical field. On its website it’s stated that U of C has patient revenues of more then one billion and is “one of the largest providers of uncompensated care in Illinois and provides millions of dollars in unreimbursed care every year.” According to its Community Report it donates $237 million of its total operating revenues to programs and services. Which sounds like a lot of money until you find out that in 2011 U of C was ranked the 39th top grossing hospital at $3.3 billion in gross revenue.

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