Last year, the CEOs of 179 of America’s largest health care companies netted four times the budget the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had to research and combat all “emerging and zoonotic infectious diseases.” Those are infectious diseases resulting from bacteria and viruses, like Ebola, or Zika. Or COVID-19. The paychecks and stock sales for the CEOs reached almost $2.5 billion, according to an Axios analysis; 179 people dividing up $2.5 billion. Billion.
At the top of the list is medical device firm Abiomed’s Michael Minogue, who made $123 million in 2019. That represents about 16% of the annual revenue for the company and half of its profit. The median pay for all 179 CEOs was about $8 million, but 17 of them made more than $30 million. A piece. The CDC’s Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases unit budgeted $560,372,000 in 2019. On top of that, Trump’s proposed budget for 2020 slashed $188 million out of it.
The unit, the CDC writes, of “world-class scientists, researchers, laboratorians, and
emergency responders protect America’s health, safety, and security by reducing illness and death associated with these infectious diseases, whether spread intentionally or unintentionally, through several core functions,” including outbreak response, surveillance, and laboratory expertise. All of which is essentially out the window now that Trump has decided to take them out of the picture.
Just to put a capper on all this, Abiomed “and physicians who accept money from the company lobbied the federal government to squash a proposal that would’ve cut Medicare payments for surgeries involving Abiomed’s heart pumps.” They succeeded and their Medicare reimbursements were not cut, allowing for Minogue to get even more insanely rich off a health care system that has failed to respond to this pandemic.
But the system will always respond to the perceived needs of the CEOs.
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