November 2012        

Health care, American style


As American-style health care is relentlessly pushed by Fine Gael and its collaborators, an interesting view of a health service as business is provided by an article in the Financial Times (1 October).
      The Washington Post, on the brink of closing down because of the collapse of newspaper sales, is diversifying—into the “hospice business.” It has just bought a majority share in Celtic Healthcare, a successful hospice company. The chairman and chief executive of the Washington Post (speaking in the charming gobbledygook cultivated by such people) boasts of the company’s “ongoing strategy of investing in companies with demonstrated earnings potential and strong management teams attracted to our long-term investment horizon.”
      Hospices and nursing homes are a growth industry in a country with an ageing population and no health service. According to an industry research group, the United States now has 7,789 “end-of-life care facilities,” which generate a combined annual profit for their owners of $18.9 billion.
      No wonder that millionaire doctors and millionaire lobbyists are champing at the bit.

Cancer drugs for private patients

Numerous people have participated in trials organised by the All-Ireland Co-operative Oncology Research Group, which has been to the forefront in securing clinical trials for potentially life-saving drugs. The group’s chief executive, Brian Moulton, urged cancer patients to become involved in clinical trials; but, he said, the country’s perilous financial position means that “many of the medications that we are bringing in for trials won’t be available generally, and some may never be available, except through private medicine.”

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