Private Equity Quietly Takes Over Emergency Services — And The Consequences Are Dire
The firms have applied cost-cutting, Wall Street-like methods to health care with little oversight or regulation, and vulnerable patients are paying the price.
The New York Times:
When You Dial 911 And Wall Street Answers
The business of driving ambulances and operating fire brigades represents just one facet of a profound shift on Wall Street and Main Street alike, a New York Times investigation has found. Since the 2008 financial crisis, private equity firms, the “corporate raiders” of an earlier era, have increasingly taken over a wide array of civic and financial services that are central to American life. Today, people interact with private equity when they dial 911, pay their mortgage, play a round of golf or turn on the kitchen tap for a glass of water. Private equity put a unique stamp on these businesses. Unlike other for-profit companies, which often have years of experience making a product or offering a service, private equity is primarily skilled in making money. (Ivory, Protess and Bennett, 6/25)
In other national health care news —
After 190 Tries, Are We Any Closer To A Cure For Alzheimer’s?
Eli Lilly has spent almost three decades working on drugs for Alzheimer’s disease with not much to show for it yet. This year the company began human tests using a totally new approach. Its latest drug targets an aberrant protein called tau that spreads through the brain as Alzheimer’s progresses, accumulating in telltale tangles that strangle brain cells. (Langreth and Koons, 6/27)
The Washington Post:
You Have One Week To Tell The Government What To Do About Cancer
Have an idea about how to make progress against cancer? The federal government wants to know, but the suggestion box closes next Friday. For months, the National Cancer Institute has been gathering research ideas from the public and experts around the country via a special portal, CancerResearchIdeas.cancer.gov. The suggestions are being funneled to seven working groups looking for the best opportunities for speeding up progress against cancer. But the NCI is facing a series of deadlines, so the portal will be shut down at end of the next work week. (McGinley, 6/24)
The Wall Street Journal:
The Difficult Ethics Of Organ Donations From Living Donors
Robert Osterrieder, a 52-year-old project manager, returned home to Pittsburgh from a business trip complaining about problems with his vision. Two days later, he was in the hospital on a ventilator. For the next five months, Mr. Osterrieder fought for his life. His brain swelled, and he underwent numerous medical procedures. He struggled with pneumonia and needed a feeding tube. Finally, as he lay in the hospital unconscious and with little likelihood of recovery, his family decided to remove his life support. But first, they wanted him to become an organ donor. Organ transplants are based on a longstanding rule: You can only take vital organs—a heart, for instance, or both kidneys—from someone who is dead. And removing any organ cannot be the cause of the donor’s death. (Dockser Marcus, 6/26)
Inside A Secret Government Warehouse Prepped For Health Catastrophes
When Greg Burel tells people he's in charge of some secret government warehouses, he often gets asked if they're like the one at the end of the Raiders of the Lost Ark, when the Ark of the Covenant gets packed away in a crate and hidden forever. "Well, no, not really," says Burel, director of a program called the Strategic National Stockpile at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Thousands of lives might someday depend on this stockpile, which holds all kinds of medical supplies that the officials would need in the wake of a terrorist attack with a chemical, biological or nuclear weapon. (Greenfieldboyce, 6/27)