News In Brief

For small healthcare provider, holding steady but not growing

USC Annenberg School of Journalism Sep 9, 2011

As part of Marketplace’s coverage of President Barack Obama’s address to Congress tonight, in which he unveiled a $447 billion plan to invest in jobs, journalism students from the University of Southern California interviewed Los Angeles-area business owners and business leaders for reaction.

The health-care sector is projected to add more jobs through 2018 than any other segment of the economy, and health-care spending accounts for close to a fifth of the nation’s gross domestic product. The growing medical needs of an aging population acted as bulwark against the recession.

Los Angeles-based Shin MRI charges the same price for an MRI exam as it did a decade ago – $425. But the number of exams it performs has grown by about 10 percent to 15 percent a year. It has kept costs in check by buying long-lasting equipment that requires cheap upgrades. But the company says it could grow more if the community it serves in Los Angeles’s Koreatown neighborhood started to see better times.

Lon Gillette, vice president Shin MRI, a company which performs magnetic resonance imaging exams.
LOCATION: Los Angeles, Calif.

On what he’s facing now:
“We’ve been doing fairly well. We’ve been sort of insulated. The small businesses I know of make decisions based on their own little turf…a parochial decision. Many of the decisions we make deal with the Korean mentality since 95 percent of our business comes from that community. If we were in Irvine, that would be different. “

On the President’s speech:
“If you’re in a position where you just looking for bodies or unskilled workers, [the President’s plan] might be very attractive. But that doesn’t work in our business, where we’re looking for certain technical skills. A construction firm looking for someone to sweep the floor? This is an attractive plan.”

On what he sees going forward:
“What I’m curious about is the assumption that it’s a fundamental dysfunction of the economic system, a gridlock that can be easily fixed. I think there’s an argument to be made that is coming up more now that most businesses are at or near their pre-recession production levels. I’m not sure some of those jobs (lost during the recession) will ever return. There might be a whole generation of people who are unemployed.”

– by Paresh Dave

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