Chase Brexton Conflict is a Symptom of Bigger Problems

The battle currently being waged at the Chase Brexton Health Care clinic in Baltimore between health professionals and management is a familiar one in the United States. It is a symptom of our dysfunctional for-profit healthcare system and the attack on worker's rights.

Under claims of a need to 'restructure' due to a high patient load, the board is sacrificing patient care by forcing providers to see more patients and spend less time with them. Health professionals say that this lowers the quality of care they can give.

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This same scenario plays out in hospitals where nurses are forced to care for more patients than anyone could reasonably manage and physicians, particularly those in primary care, are forced to see more patients and spend less time with them in order to meet the costs of overhead.

There are other options of course.

Chase Brexton could hire more health professionals and could work with the current staff to find ways to handle the increased patient load. Instead, the board and senior management at Chase Brexton are choosing to take a heavy-handed approach as workers seek to form a union to protect not only their rights, but also the rights and health of their patients.

Chase Brexton fired long-time health professionals without warning and is taking other steps to intimidate workers to prevent them from organizing, such as filing a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board to stall a vote.

I support and applaud the workers at Chase Brexton for their courage and their commitment to their patients. I ask that Chase Brexton senior staff seek a more respectful approach to the workers and their right to organize.

I recognize that the root cause of the conflicts in our healthcare system is because health care is treated as a commodity, not a human right. In this system, profit for investor-owned insurers, hospitals, pharmaceutical and medical device companies and other medical institutions is more important than the health and well-being of people. The Affordable Care Act has not resolved this problem, it has only made it worse by driving greater privatization and consolidation in the system.

There is a solution: We can move rapidly to a national improved Medicare for All health system that places health as the bottom line. This has been done successfully in many places. It leads to lower costs, higher quality of care and better health outcomes. It also has a positive impact on public policy in general. 

Under a national improved Medicare for All system, we must respect the rights of workers to organize so they can negotiate with the system to protect their rights to safe working conditions and fair pay and benefits.

As your Senator, I will put tremendous effort into creating a health care system that puts patients over profit, just as I have been doing for the past ten years. We know what works. We just need the political will to make it happen. Fortunately, political will is something that people power can change. And it is the only way we can change the reality of the failing healthcare system currently in place.

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