Opinion: Health industry leaders profit under Obamacare

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By Joshua Burciaga
Image Courtesy David Goehring | Flickr

Former President Barack Obama’s health care law has rewarded wealthy owners of the healthcare industry due to flaws legislators ignored during implementation of  “Obamacare.”

These issues still persist under the new presidential administration.

The United States is the only industrialized nation in the world where the government does not regulate the profits of the healthcare industry.

This deregulation has consequences.

Steven Brill, author of “America’s Bitter Pill,” writes about how one dose of the life saving drug Flebogamma can cost a cancer patient thousands of dollars even though it’s cheap to make.

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center bought Flebogamma from Grifols pharmaceutical company for $1,400 to $1,600 when it cost  no more than $200 or $300 to collect, process, test and ship.

This practice affects  American taxpayers.

Putting price controls on pharmaceutical drugs would save American taxpayers $94 billion a year.

However, pharmaceutical companies in the U.S. argue that the extra revenue earned goes towards research for new drugs that will benefit patients.

Instead the pharmaceutical industry has been spending this extra revenue elsewhere.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, in 2017 the drug industry spent $171.5 million on lobbying, and according to Statista, they spent a whopping $23.85 billion on advertising the same year.

Prohibiting the waste of money on lobbying and advertisements by these industries would save taxpayers $24 billion a year.

Not only has “Obamacare” helped big pharmaceutical companies flourish but it has led to unequal pay for doctors and nurses compared to hospital CEOs.

Journalist Elisabeth Rosenthal of The New York Times reports that Ronald J. Del Mauro, former president of Barnabas Health Hospital, earned over $21 million in 2012 while the average nurse was paid $61,000 a year.

A provision must be implemented to ensure that the highest paid CEO of a hospital cannot make sixty times more than the lowest paid full time doctor or nurse.

If the lowest paid full time nurse at Barnabas Health makes $61,000 in 2012, the president should only make $3.66 million that year.

The remaining $17.34 million made by Del Muro should go towards lowering the costs of healthcare, giving doctors and nurses the pay raise they deserve.

Doctors and nurses are the backbone of the healthcare industry and are long overdue for a pay raise. CEOs, who provide none of the care, should not profit so heavily on a necessity such as healthcare.

Still, people don’t realize the healthcare industry has seen record profits thanks to  “Obamacare.”

For example the Hospital Corporation of America, which runs 177 hospitals and 119 surgery centers, has seen their stock value triple from $31.12  per share in March 2011 to $97.55 per share in May 2018.

Johnson & Johnson, a producer of drugs and medical devices, has had their stock value double from $63.81 per share in October 2010 to $124.19 per share in May 2018.

This pattern is consistent with almost every business associated with healthcare, because “Obamacare” gave the healthcare industry the ability to exploit new customers.

Unless changes are made to eliminate flaws found in “Obamacare,” healthcare costs will continue to skyrocket at the cost of the American people.

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