The argument for the commoditization, commercialization and privatization of everything in America – including health care and medical services – that has been shoved down our collective throats for the past generation goes something like this: “free market competition forces providers of goods and services to offer the best products at the lowest prices.”
Oh, yes – the Corporate World loves the “free market”...except when it doesn't. In fact, there have been hundreds of examples over the past few decades in which large corporations go to great lengths to eliminate the competition and establish legal monopolies. Most commonly, this consists of “mergers and acquisitions.” In many cases, a corporate “person” will simply buy off its pet legislator. When all of that fails, however, there are always the courts.
Recently, Fresenius, the largest provider of dialysis services in the world and current target of litigation over its dialysis product Granuflo, filed a lawsuit against the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board over its approval for a new clinic operated by the Northwestern Medical Faculty Foundation, a non-profit organization staffed by physicians of Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine.
Apparently, profit-driven Fresenius does not like the idea of its patients abandoning its own for-profit facilities for the non-profit clinic down the street...and it's not the first time it has sued the board over this issue. Late last year, Fresenius sued the board to overturn its approval of a dialysis clinic operated by a competitor, Denver-based DaVita Healthcare Partners, Inc. in another part of the state.
According to the article in Crain's, the state health care authority's decision could potentially put Fresenius' 44-station dialysis clinic, currently operating out of Northwestern Memorial Hospital, out of business. Linas Grikis, an attorney and shareholder at a Chicago law firm who works with hospitals and health care entities in the field of mergers and acquisitions, told the reporter that it was “...a clear example of a proposed project...cannibalizing an existing facility that's already offering services.” Furthermore, Fresenius' status as a plaintiff in the case could conceivably place the company in an awkward position the next time they go to the board for approval on future projects. Grikis went on to say that if Fresenius prevailed in the lawsuit, “...providers might be more emboldened to challenge the board's decisions.”
Which could mean that profit-driven medical care could become even more entrenched in America's pathetic excuse for a health-care “system” - a system rotten with corruption and by far the most wasteful and expensive such system in the world that nonetheless results in some of the poorest outcomes.
This lawsuit should never have been filed – because profit has no place in a field upon which human life and well-being depends. The government in Fresenius' home country of Germany has understood this for over 140 years.
Certain legislators in the U.S. also understand this – but as things stand, their voices – who speak for the majority of working Americans – will continue to be drowned out by the huge sums of money available to a handful of powerful corporate “persons.”
Bushey, Claire. “Fresenius Sues Illinois Health Board to Reverse Approval.” Crain's Chicago Business, 21 May 2013.
N/A. “About Us.” Northwestern Medical Faculty Foundation. https://www.nmff.org/aboutUs/
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