Hospital Closures Demonstrate Broken Healthcare System and Government Failures
The recently announced closures of Providence Hospital’s Inpatient Psychiatric Services and Holyoke Medical Center’s Birthing Unit highlight a harsh reality in our country. Our healthcare system is broken. While both hospitals have presented a long list of reasons for closing their services, both administrations ultimately cite the same challenge: maintaining profits.
The shuttering of these units is the latest example of a multi-decade pattern of regional closures and corporate consolidation in the medical industry, fueled by predatory Wall Street firms, and enabled by a say-nothing, do-nothing approach to government oversight. The impact of healthcare profiteering is felt all around our country, but its effect on western Massachusetts is particularly devastating. Closures, consolidations, and price increases have the greatest impact on communities of color and those who live in rural districts. That the color of your skin, income level, or neighborhood should impact your access to healthcare is a national travesty. That any healthcare services are being forced to close in the midst of a global pandemic while Congress is handing out hundreds of billions of dollars in unchecked bailout money to non-tax paying private corporations only adds insult to injury.
As mayor, my advocacy for Medicare for All does not stem from political polling data or party platforms; it comes from hearing, seeing, and living the experience of being a Holyoke resident. I can resoundingly say the private system we have, even with expanded access from Obamacare, is fundamentally broken. While there is no magic wand to create a new system of Medicare for All overnight, we can build the system we seek in short order.
But the change we seek will not be possible unless we root out the corrupting influence of corporate money on our politics. The politicians we elect to represent our interests are funded by the very corporations that benefit from the broken status quo. So long as insurers, private equity firms, and the pharmaceutical industry get to write the laws, the American people will be denied the access to care that they deserve.
These new hospital closures and consolidations come on the heels of decades of closures and consolidation of manufacturing, local banking, and other institutions that provide a source of income and pride to our communities. The outcome of this pillaging has been devastating health impacts, the sowing of discord and distrust in the community, and cities and towns that are reliant on the state and federal government for support, instead of being empowered to create their own change.
Tackling these national problems has been my greatest challenge as the mayor of Holyoke and it is why I am running for Congress. Our access to inpatient beds, prenatal care, and birthing centers, must not be dictated by profiteers. These services should be provided to all who need them, because healthcare is a human right. I stand with the thousands of voices in our community calling for the halting of these closures, and I am calling on our federal delegation to do the same. Let’s pave the way for a healthcare system that puts people before pro