Health Care: Laying off Millions during a Pandemic

We are living through one of the greatest health crises in world history and by far the biggest health care crisis in the U.S. in living memory. So why are so many U.S. health care workers out of work? Something is terribly wrong about this!

In April, 1.4 million health care workers in the U.S. lost their jobs! That was up from just 42,000 reported in March. Just when we need them the most, hospitals and other health care businesses are laying off staff.

The managers of these businesses have their excuses. They say that state governors ordered them to postpone all so-called elective procedures until the COVID-19 crisis has passed. They say that fear is keeping people away from emergency rooms, even if they have urgent problems that aren’t COVID-19-related. The result is that they are furloughing staff, cutting pay for those still working in extremely dangerous conditions, and planning to raise fees on all kinds of services once the crisis passes.

While it’s true there have been state orders about service delivery and plenty of fear about going to the hospital for any reason, these are just excuses. The real problem is that health care in this society is run to make profits for big investors. Why not reassign staff to give those working with COVID patients shorter hours? Why not cut payments to Big Pharma to balance the books? Why take it out of the hides of those working to provide both emergency and routine care? So the fat cats can keep getting fatter while patients die and health workers get pay cuts, lose their jobs, or even die.

Everyone should have access to the health care they need. And no working people should have to sacrifice to make that happen. This is an inhumane system and we need to change it!

Featured image credit: Wikimedia Commons