Colorado for Health Care is working to end the tax breaks and corporate loopholes that allow big “buyout firms” like KKR to purchase health care companies and then profit handsomely while jobs are cut and patient care deteriorates. The concept is simple enough – health care should be about patients, not profit. But unfortunately that is rarely the case in the US. HCA was bought by KKR in 2006 for $33 billion. It’s interesting to note that during the time that the buyout was taking place (summer – fall of 2006), there was a lot of upheaval in Colorado when United HealthCare and HCA suspended their contract for a few months. Patients who were in the middle of treatment found themselves having to switch hospitals and providers in order to stay in network with their UHC health insurance. Obviously the best interest of the patients was not priority number one. The fiasco did eventually get resolved, but it’s still the first thing a lot of people here in Colorado remember when they think of HCA.
Henry Kravis is one of the original founders of KKR, the firm that bought out HCA two years ago. He’s a supporter of John McCain, whose health care plan is widely regarded as less than adequate. I’d say it’s a safe bet that Kravis did not buy the largest hospital chain in America in order to bring about useful health care reform. His firm is all about profits, and while there’s nothing inherently wrong with generating profits, it does seem a bit socially irresponsible to do so at the expense of American health care. If we removed the profit motive from the health care industry, perhaps we would start to see a more level playing field – one upon which all Americans had equal access to doctors, hospitals, and medications.