Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Real Problem, Look in the Mirror

The editorial in Saturday's, July 28th Providence Journal, while concerned primarily with the merits or lack thereof of Blue Cross Blue Shield's actions regarding Landmark Medical Center, it presents an opportunity to examine a much larger issue - the tug of war between two competing philosophies;  leave business decisions to the marketplace and all will be well, or allow government to become involved with private business and industry and the people will be better for it.

"Certainly, Lifespan, which operates Rhode Island and Miriam hospitals and works closely with Blue Cross, has a financial interest in ending competition with Landmark, particularly for lucrative, simpler operations."  This suggests that concern for the bottom line trumps concern for the public's health.

If the health and well being of the Rhode Island population is the goal then there would appear to be a conflict of interest, as you clearly state:

"We do not know whether Blue Cross has concluded that driving Landmark out of business is its most profitable course, but surely it has a duty to serve the health interests of the people of Rhode Island. As the state’s people and their representatives see it, saving Landmark is greatly in the public interest." 

While it is easy to see that business will always act in its own self interest and thus might hurt the public in the process, it is more difficult to accept the reality that our elected officials do not always act in the best interest of the people either, often favoring one favored group over another.

It makes a very strong case for term limits and for much more public involvement and thought during election season.  

I'll bet the Olympics captured far more attention than this dry, boring topic.