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Taylor Swift, Private Equity, and Healthcare

Taylor Swift has announced plans to re-record her first six albums, the first single from Fearless released this February. This is a culmination of a long battle to regain ownership of her masters sold without her knowledge and against her wishes.

Big Machine, her former record label, gained control of the rights to her albums when she first signed a contract with them. After Swift left the record label in 2017, Big Machine was brought by Scoot Braun’s company, Ithaca Holdings, and the Carlyle Group, a private equity firm, a 300 million dollar deal.

 For Taylor Swift, this meant not owning the rights to her music including how and when her music is used. As a way to fight back against this, the singer announced that she would re-record her music, diminishing the value of the original copies.

Taylor Swift’s story is among the majority of musicians who have experienced something similar, Jay Z and Janet Jackson are the rare artists who do own their music. This issue brings attention to the unregulated world of private equity.

Private equity firms are made up of investors who buy stock in private companies. The way medical insurance is run in the United States relies on private equity. Private equity firms, like Blackstone, invest in medical technology and practices like radiology and dermatology. The doctors can make money off these partnerships.

 However, these firms can then influence medical decision making all the way down to individual medical offices. In dermatology offices, the private equity firms encourage doctors to increase the use of expensive laser treatment or cosmetic procedures.  Furthermore, the firms can require doctors to bill patients for services out-of-network, meaning services that are not covered by the patient’s insurance. Overall, this results in more medical bills for the patient.

This problem has been growing in the United States as more businesses are brought up by private equity firms. Studies have found that the quality of medical care decreases as more doctors and their practices have been bought. Currently, the US Congress has been looking for a solution, but for now, we are still at the mercy of private equity.

 

Alexa Gee

U Alberta '21

Alexa Gee is a senior at the University of Alberta. She is completing a Bachelor of Science with a Biology major and Sociology minor.
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