Bad Medicine

The Patrick administration likes the notion of universal health coverage. It just doesn’t want to pay for it.

BMC is not just a safety-net hospital. It is one of the city’s largest employers, with 6,000 full- and part-time employees. The statute that created it mandated that BMC fulfill a role as a “major academic medical center, including support for biomedical, public health, medical education, and basic science research.” It has done that, attracting federal and philanthropic grants to support construction of a cancer center and an outpatient facility, fund clinical trials, and facilitate the training of Boston University medical school students. These are not luxuries. Cancer is the leading cause of death for Boston residents, and BMC is among the few places that introduce students to the genuinely diverse city in which they live and work.

This particular Tuesday is slipping away at Boston Medical Center. The hospital’s motto of “exceptional care without exception” is being played out across its busy campus. The newborn being weaned from addictive drugs could remain in the nursery for weeks. The bed-wetter has been discharged and is being settled into a new apartment, her incontinence gone, along with her fear. The gunshot victim has died.

Each of them was a Medicaid patient. And each of them got more from Boston Medical Center than the Commonwealth of Massachusetts says they are worth.

  • sri

    It seems a shame that the Brigham and Mass general doesn’t step up to absorb some of the difficulty of caring for the poor.

  • Michael

    Why is it a shame? The state isn’t living up to its deal with the BMC and is showing why health care isn’t as cut-and-dry as everyone likes to make it out to be.