MFA and COVID19 Update – March 14, 2021

Mar 15, 2021 | PDA Blog

By Dr. Bill Honigman, PDA Healthcare Human Rights, Coordinator – Progressive Democrats of America

This week despite declining worldwide deaths due to #COVID19, total cases saw increasing numbers in even more countries than last weeks’, including now in Brazil where they have overtaken the next leading country, India, and yet their autocratic leader Bolsinaro tells his people to “stop whining about the pandemic”.

Nonetheless, vaccinations proceed worldwide at only a slightly better rate with about 53 million doses given globally this week compared to last week’s 52 million.  And meanwhile here in the US, we are actually ahead of vaccine projections with over 100 million doses total given to date, and an average of 2.18 million per day given just this last week.  That has resulted in an estimated 11.1% of the total US population thought to be fully vaccinated, so far.

Given that, the US suffered only 9,934 deaths due to COVID19 this week.  That’s actually down from last week’s 12,137, and mercifully that’s a new average low since the fall/winter peak that began last November.  So, this week we’re at about 1400 lost souls per day, and that brings us to a national pandemic death toll of 533,904 Americans total who have died thus far, with 213,561 of those American deaths preventable per public health scientists if we had had a #SinglePayer expanded and improved #MedicareForAll system in place when COVID19 had first hit our shores last year.

We should take a moment here to celebrate the passage of the COVID19 economic relief bill known as The American Rescue Plan this week, which moved through Congress without a single Republican vote, only to be signed by President Biden while giving a shout-out to Sen. Bernie Sanders for his role in getting so many crucial social justice provisions included in the bill. 

Resultant subsidies to big insurance and big pharma notwithstanding, the bill does address significant COVID-care issues like PPE and staffing support for our frontline health workers, and more testing and vaccines especially for underserved communities.  And, it actually addresses non-COVID health services like support for Community Health Centers and other social services that can bring those most adversely impacted by this Healthcare emergency the means to improve those social determinants of health that should be so clearly seen by all now as what is needed for this country to come even close to performing as other civilized countries of the world have done in this situation, as well as prepare us for the next pandemic predicted by climate scientists.

For many of us of course, the reintroduction of the National Medicare for All Act, which we see as what is really needed here, can’t come soon enough.  Co-Authors U.S. Representatives Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) and Debbie Dingell (D-MI) have announced that this is scheduled to take place this coming Wednesday March 17th.  And those of us who are following this issue closely are eager to see if the new bill carries on the tradition set now decades ago by the late great Rep. John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI) in his seminal HR676 that called for a Single Payer expanded and improved Medicare for All (MFA) system.

More specifically, we are looking to see if the new MFA Act contains at least the basic elements that we might all agree upon that will bring about the desired results of saving money, lots of money, and saving lives, lots of lives, as we certainly know now that it would have with COVID19.

These elements are described in some detail by renown advocates and authors Drs. Abdul El-Sayed and Micah Johnson as “the active ingredients of M4A” in their new book “Medicare for All: A Citizen’s Guide” and I will summarize them quickly here:

  1. Universal coverage, that’s the “all” part of MFA
  2. Comprehensive coverage, the full range of essential medical services
  3. Pricing power, leverage as a single buyer of drugs, devices, and provider services
  4. Administrative efficiency, with profound savings to patients and providers alike
  5. Progressive financing, recognizes that commercial insurance is actually a regressive tax on those who can least afford it, and
  6. Public accountability, with built-in resistance to political pressure

These would appear to be the fundamentals that are needed, and that we are all eager to see go forward as a strong statement of public policy and an opportunity for our public elected officials to put into place.

The chance to save money and especially to save lives with a new national MFA system, implemented at the most local levels of our communities, in cities, counties, states, school districts, and utility boards, should be recognized with a challenge issued to all wishing to serve in these positions of public trust.  If for no other reason, than to pay respect to those who have needlessly died for lack of such a system, and to show the lessons learned by we survivors of this public health crisis that we are hopefully just now starting to put behind us.

Once again, it can’t come quickly enough.

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