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Resolutions & Amendments

33rd International Convention - Honolulu, HI (1998)

Corporatization of Health Care and the Danger to Quality

Resolution No. 11
33rd International Convention
August 24-28, 1998
Honolulu, HI


The delivery of health care, as big business sees it, is just another economic commodity, and, as such, has value only in terms of money it can generate for investors. Consequently, the health delivery industry has become a battleground for companies competing for quick profits; and


This accelerated drive for profits from the sick and afflicted is so lucrative that even foreign-based companies are swooping down and plucking up our hospitals, nursing homes and suppliers of goods and services to health facilities; and


Even though the most aggressive and high profile for-profit health care giant, Columbia/HCA, has suffered some serious setbacks as a result of union-initiated federal fraud investigations, and one of the best-known managed care insurers, Oxford Health Care, was found to have a policy of excessive delays in paying providers to hide financial problems, other for-profit and look-alike not-for-profit companies are rapidly expanding. Some of these new players are regional powerhouses such as the St. Barnabas System in New Jersey; and


This reckless lust for big profits with little concern about the quality of health care is putting pressure on non-profit insurers and HMO's such as Kaiser Permanente which has announced premium increases up to as much as 12%. Others undoubtedly will follow Kaiser's example, further curtailing access to care for those who cannot afford to pay more; and


Other responses to unregulated, unmanaged competition include public and teaching hospitals and community hospitals being forced to cut staff to dangerous levels, impose hiring freezes, eliminate services, postpone needed investments in equipment and facilities and seek merger partners, all of which jeopardize the quality of health care and access to it for many communities.


That AFSCME fight the growing corporatization of health care in many ways, including, but not limited to, opposing vigorously the takeover and forced closing of public hospitals by for-profit companies and the conversion of non-profit community hospitals to for-profit uses; lobbying for consumer rights in managed care laws and encouraging our councils and locals to join coalitions that are pushing for state laws to tightly regulate takeovers and conversions and to require quality standards as a condition for any conversion.


Henry Nicholas, President and Delegate

Odessa Powell, President and Delegate
AFSCME Local 389, Council 1707
New York