Activists Call for Moratorium on For-Profit Health Care

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Associated Press

The state should take steps to make sure its health maintenance organizations remain non-profit, activists said Monday.

“Non-profit medicine is the best. If they change over to for-profit centers, it’s a disaster waiting to happen,” said John O’Connor, co-chairman of the Coalition to Defend and Improve Health Care.

Activist Frank Smith said, “Health care is not a commodity. You can’t sell health care like cars and computers.”

O’Connor, a former congressional candidate and critic of electric deregulation, is pushing for a referendum in 2000 that would place a moratorium on for-profit conversions of HMOs and hospitals.

Smith and Jamie Court, who are the authors of a book critical of for-profit medicine, delivered it in person to the Massachusetts Association of HMOs downtown office.

MAHMO officials said that only 10 percent of those enrolled in HMOs statewide are in for-profit HMOs.

MAHMO later released a statement, saying the state’s HMOs were “among the highest ranked in the United States for quality of care and member satisfaction.”

“The state’s 15 health plans, which include non-profit and for-profit alike, continue to outperform plans in other parts of the country, while offering affordable coverage to more than 2.6 million Massachusetts residents,” the statement said.

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