Populist mayor opposes health care that would benefit the poor

Populist mayor opposes health care that would benefit the poor

While he’s known as Mumbles for his uncanny knack for mangling the English language, usually there’s no denying that Boston Mayor Tom Menino is a canny politician. So I’m left wondering who he’s pandering to with his recent inane comments on a proposal to put for-profit medical clinics in retail stores.

The CVS pharmacy chain has a subsidiary called Medi-Clinics that puts no-appointment, limited-service clinics staffed by nurse practitioners inside their stores, including those in Boston. This isn’t a novel idea, as Wal-Mart has had similar clinics in many of its stores. The attraction is that it provides low-cost services for simple medical care and avoids the whole doctor’s-office hassle and the overuse of emergency rooms for mundane health matters.

However, Menino is inexplicably opposed to these clinics. Not that he doesn’t try to explain, but there is no logic to his objections. For example he says: “Allowing retailers to make money off of sick people is wrong.”

Um, the pharmacies are already selling prescription and over-the-counter drugs to sick people and making money off them. Not to mention the very large, for-profit healthcare conglomerates and insurance companies and doctors and … well, you get the picture. There are plenty of people who “make money off of sick people.” It’s called capitalism. He doesn’t stop there.

“It is hard for me to understand how a company that sells products detrimental to the public health such as tobacco, soda and junk food, could in the same vein promote good health in their mini-clinics, Menino wrote in a letter to city health commissioners.

Yes, and you’ve never seen a doctor or nurse smoke, drink soda, or eat junk food. It doesn’t mean they can’t provide good health care to their patients. The objection is so weak and illogical, you know that there must be some other reason for it. The question is, who’s special interest is threatened by these clinics? Doctors? Hospitals? Nurses’ unions?

In any case, it seems that the public benefit would only be enhanced by a low-cost alternative to the bloated system that’s already in place, especially since state regulations would ensure quality of care.. Giving the poor, the underinsured, or the just plain inconvenienced more options can only be good. Evidently Menino doesn’t see it that way.

Written by
Domenico Bettinelli