The COVID-19 pandemic continues to show the utter disregard for human life in the profit-focused U.S. healthcare system. Several California hospitals have refused to accept transfers of COVID-19 patients because these patients are uninsured. Regardless of federal laws that require hospitals to be available for emergency relief, hospitals in general are expected to volunteer their services during a crisis. The laws vary depending on the state, and while some states have required that hospitals accept COVID-19 transfers, this is not the case in California.
Leaving it up to the good will of the hospital administrators shows us just how little they are willing to do during a global crisis that has cost the lives of over 230,000 people in the U.S. so far. In Imperial County, one of the worst hit counties in the state, government officials had to put pressure on hospital administrators to accept patients from other overcrowded facilities. In the San Diego and Los Angeles hospital systems, patients were denied care despite hospitals stating they had available beds. And in San Bernardino, Loma Linda University Health went the extra step of demanding that it should be paid 130% of Medicare costs for some of the uninsured patients it was accepting. Meanwhile, patients had to wait several days to be admitted or had to travel hundreds of miles to get care.
During a health crisis where time is of the essence to prevent further complications, long-term damage, or even death, what these hospital administrators have done is nothing short of criminal. And while it may be easy to cast blame on these hospitals, we must remember that they are just following the rules of a criminally unequal healthcare system.