An explosive article from Salon this week highlights the attitude of corporations that profits rule, above all else.
But what if that corporation is a for-profit health care company that values profits over the health and safety of its patients? You may say that's just how corporate America rolls in these times, and I'd have to agree. But now what if the corporation that owns the for-profit health care provider is Bain capital -- founded by Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney -- reportedly sees about 1 death per year on average in its facilities due to neglect, abuse or the use of under-paid staff with inadequate training? And what if Mitt Romney, a man who is running for the highest office in our nation based on his business acumen, is also profiting from that health care provider?
"Corporations are people, my friends." No, no they're not. Also, their profits are absolutely not more important than the troubled teens who were sent for "treatment" at the Bain Capital owned CRC Health centers who didn't live to return home.
When the morning staff arrived at 7 a.m., they discovered Brendan face down on the floor of the Purple Room, his body already stiff with rigor mortis. The state’s chief medical examiner later determined that Blum had died of a twisted-bowel infarction, which requires emergency surgical intervention.
The failure at Youth Care was not due simply to the carelessness of a few workers — a point underscored when a Utah court found that the threshold needed to pursue criminal negligence charges against the two monitors in 2008 wasn’t met and the charges were dismissed. And it wasn’t the only example of alleged negligence or abuse at treatment centers for adult addicts and “troubled teens” that are owned by Aspen’s parent company, CRC Health Group, according to a Salon investigation based on government reports, court filings and official complaints by parents and employees, along with interviews with former clients and staff.
Court documents and ex-staffers also allege that such incidents reflect, in part, a broader corporate culture at Aspen’s owner, CRC Health Group, a leading national chain of treatment centers. Lawsuits and critics have claimed that CRC prizes profits, and the avoidance of outside scrutiny, over the health and safety of its clients. (We sent specific questions on these basic allegations to CRC and owner Bain Capital. CRC would answer only general questions; Bain did not reply.)
And CRC’s corporate culture, in turn, reflects the attitudes and financial imperatives of Bain Capital, the private equity firm founded by Mitt Romney. (The Romney campaign also did not reply to written questions.) Bain is known for its relentless obsession with maximizing shareholder value and revenues. Indeed, this has become a talking point of late on the Romney campaign trail; he bragged to Fox in late May that “80 percent of them grew their revenues.” CRC, a fast-growing company then in the lucrative field of drug treatment, was perhaps a natural fit when Bain acquired it for $720 million in 2006. In conversations with staff and patients who spent time at CRC facilities since the takeover, there are suggestions that the Bain approach has had its effects. “If you look at their daily profit numbers compared to what they charge,” Dana Blum said of CRC’s Aspen division in 2009, “it’s obscene.” That point, ironically enough, was underscored by the glowing reports in the trade press about its profitability.
Also noteworthy, of the three Bain managing partners who sit on CRC’s board, two, John Connaughton and Steven Barnes, along with his wife, gave a total of half a million dollars to Restore Our Future, the super PAC supporting Mitt Romney. They also each donated the $2,500 maximum directly to his campaign.
I can't imagine the pain Brendan Blum's family must feel when they hear Mitt Romney droning on about profits, stock options, and tax shelters in the Caymans as they grieve in silence. They can no longer speak publicly about Brendan’s death, according to the terms of a settlement reached last year in a wrongful death lawsuit.
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