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Samaritan Health Services, a half-billion dollar corporation providing multiple health care services over a three-county area, is a nonprofit corporation. Such corporations receive favorable tax treatment in return for providing publicly useful services. As in all large enterprises, not all divisions are equally profitable but the high-profit areas make it possible for the weaker earners to exist.

Home health care is an example of a division that doesn't bring large returns. Clients need a variety of services and are spread out over a wide area, creating transportation costs for the care givers. So Samaritan has decided to shed this low-profit service in order to increase its overall profit margin.

A sound business decision, but it makes one wonder how a for-profit organization like Signature Healthcare at Home, will exist when a nonprofit like Samaritan loses money? Since Samaritan has a near-complete monopoly on health care in a three-county area, it would seem to have some responsibility to the people it serves. The Oregon Nurses Association has it right when it says care may well suffer in the interest of making a profit, especially when the caregiving company has to provide good care in all areas needing it, pay taxes and make a profit.

George and Kay Novak

Corvallis (Feb. 9)

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