Medicare for All Now in the US
Although COVID-19 has not reached epidemic or pandemic levels, despite the WHO claiming otherwise, its spread to around two-thirds of world countries suggests cases can show up anywhere with the potential of spreading rapidly from person to person.
Because the disease is highly contagious, it could reach epidemic and pandemic levels in the weeks and months ahead.
We’re in uncharted territory. On February 28, economists Jeffrey Sachs, Robert Reich, Robert Pollin, Emmanuel Saez, and others called for Medicare for all at a time when the risk of COVID-19 spreading shows it’s vitally needed.
From a public and personal health standpoint, it’s essential for everyone, especially in the world’s richest nation.
The US is world’s only developed nation without some form of universal healthcare because both right wings of duopoly rule prioritize use of the nation’s ample resources to benefit business and high-net worth individuals at the expense of equity and justice for all.
This must end. Politicians won’t do it without pushing. Mass action is needed to demand no less.
COVID-19 is an opportunity because of its risk to public health at a time when millions of Americans are uninsured, most others underinsured — the cost of healthcare in the US unaffordable for increasing numbers of people.
In an open letter, the above named economists explained that “Medicare for All (M4A) could be considerably less expensive than the current healthcare finance system,” adding:
“Medicare for All (M4A) could be considerably less expensive than the current healthcare finance system.”
It could eliminate profiteering by Big Pharma, insurers, and large hospital chains — “sav(ing) hundreds of billions of dollars per year…”
Costs would “be predictable, enabling households and businesses to plan in a way that is impossible today.”
“By eliminating insurance premiums and out-of-pocket expenses, and lowering overall healthcare costs, Medicare for All will result in enormous savings for almost all households, all except the richest households who will pay more in taxes.”
They should under a progressive tax system that once existed in the US before eliminated to transfer wealth from ordinary people to business and the rich.
“Most important, Medicare for All will reduce morbidity and save tens of thousands of lives each year” in the US.
COVID-19 is an economic as well as a public and personal health issue.
The Trump regime favors corporate and payroll tax cuts in deference to monied interests — revenue from the latter source used to fund Social Security and Medicare — programs hardliners in Washington oppose.
The Public Citizen advocacy group slammed the Trump regime’s “flailing response to (COVID-19 that) illustrates the need both for investments in public health and to establish health care as a right for all people living in the United States.”
Americans were urged to demand that their congressional representatives pass Medicare for all now.
In February 2019, HR 1384: Medicare for All Act of 2019 was introduced. It hasn’t yet been considered in committee, the first step before a floor vote in both houses.
Given the rising level of concern about the possible COVID-19 spread to a serious national level not reached so far, now is the time for mass public action to press for what’s vitally needed at all times.
Overnight, the US National Basketball Association (NBA) took an unprecedented action by suspending play after learning one player tested positive for COVID-19 — effectively cancelling remaining games to be played this season.
Other sports events may be affected the same way, including the July 24 – August 9 Tokyo summer Olympics, Major League baseball this year, NHL hockey, world soccer matches, so-called March Madness basketball, and other games drawing large numbers of people in stadiums and arenas to watch — to avoid close contact that could enable the spread of disease.
All public gatherings in the weeks and months ahead could be cancelled.
In its latest edition, the NYT published a short list, including:
numerous sporting events worldwide
parades, festivals, concerts, and other cultural events
public religious services
closure of museums, memorials, and other public places
suspending university and other school classes
Harvard ordered the campus closed by March 15. Classes through spring semester’s end will be conducted online.
According to the Los Angeles Times, California universities may suspend classes. USC, UC Berkeley, and Stanford already cancelled them.
So did Columbia Univ., Princeton, NYU, Ohio State, and the Univ. of Florida, likely many others to follow.
The Washington Post reported that “hundreds of thousands of federal workers” may be ordered to “telework full time.”
Silicon Valley and social media companies are telling employees to work from home until further notice — including Apple, Google, Microsoft, Intel, Facebook, and Twitter, among others.
Will social distancing be ordered ahead in some areas or nationwide? Will shopping malls and high-traffic stores be forced to close temporarily?
On Wednesday, Trump ordered travel from Europe to the US halted for 30 days, effective midnight March 13, restrictions not applying to Britain.
A later clarification said the suspension applies to people transporting goods, trade to continue, cargo to be allowed in.
So far, little more than 1,000 Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, less than three dozen deaths so far.
According US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) data, “this year’s (2019-20) flu season has led to at least 16 million medical visits…350,000 hospitalizations, (and around) 20,000 deaths related to the flu so far this season.”
The threat from COVID-19 pales in comparison to the above numbers that get scant public attention and virtually no fear-mongering headlines.
It’s unknown to what extent COVID-19 will spread in the US and other countries.
It’s wise to take precautions without over-exaggerating the potential threat.
It’s a window of opportunity to press US lawmakers to pass veto-proof Medicare for all legislation.
A time of perceived crisis spread by fear-mongering offers the best chance to rally political support for this vital initiative.
According to Physicians for a National Health Program, “(s)urprise medical bills, coronavirus, and bad insurance (are powerful) arguments for Medicare for All.”
My newest book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”