MFA and COVID19 Update – March 21, 2021
By Dr. Bill Honigman, PDA Healthcare Human Rights, Coordinator – Progressive Democrats of America
This week worldwide #COVID19 showed an alarming rising number of total cases, and the global death rate actually rose in the pandemic for the first time since late February. With Brazil and India’s numbers now spiking, France, Italy, Spain, and Turkey are now joining the ranks of those countries with increasing overall numbers. And that’s despite the global north leading in vaccinations with over 90 million doses of vaccine given just last week, and now over 436 million total doses of vaccine given to date.
Domestically, we are thankfully still seeing overall declining numbers of new COVID19 cases and deaths in the US, although 7,589 lost souls this week alone and a staggering 541,493 total deaths to date, still seems too much to wrap our heads around, except of course when personalized by stories of individuals who have died and their survivors still suffering from their losses.
And that’s especially poignant when we realize that a full 40% of those deaths, or an estimated 216,597 of those lost lives to date would have been spared if we had just had a #SinglePayer expanded and improved #MedicareForAll system in place at the time when this pandemic began.
Be that as it may, in certain states there are now once again alarming upward trends in the COVID19 prevalence. Notably, with what might be attributable to spring break and other recent relaxed commercial restrictions, in Michigan and Hawaii in particular public health officials are concerned that the new more contagious variants are now showing signs of a possible surge in COVID infections in these states. And spring destination hot spots like Miami Beach have wisely seen fit to declare states of emergency now in an attempt to regain at least some control of the public health situation.
Against this backdrop, vaccinations proceed here at home with all of the duly noted issues related to supply chain, and digital and cultural divide snafus. With over 20 million doses given just this week in the US for an average of about 2.9 million per day, we seem to be on track for reaching targets proclaimed by the Biden/Harris administration and the CDC, enough to allow our government’s sharing supplies with neighboring countries at least in North America, so far. And many now are calling for the US to do so on a massive global scale that might substantially improve our standing geopolitically especially in the global east and south where relations under the last administration were so seriously damaged.
Nonetheless, the race to immunize versus the spread of the more contagious variants has to be taken with deadly seriousness, and with all due public health measures kept in place, even if Texas Gov. Greg Abbott or fake-outrage TV personality Tucker Carlson think otherwise.
Thankfully, the connection between the importance of #UniversalHealthcare, where ALL of the people get ALL of the care, and our ability to survive a national or global health crisis like COVID19, was made crystal clear this week in the roll out of the new National Medicare for All (MFA) Act of 2021, now known as H.R.1976.
As promised for some time now, champions for #HealthcareJustice Reps. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) and Debbie Dingell (D-MI) reintroduced their now signature legislation this past week with a record 113 original cosponsors, including some 14 House Committee Chairs, including most notably, Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ), Chair of the all-important House Committee on Energy and Commerce, through which everything that becomes law related to Healthcare must pass. And we are being told now that Rep. Pallone has promised committee hearings specifically on this bill. That’s another first for this type of legislation.
Also featured in the roll out, were a number of members of Congress who had been notoriously resistant to supporting MFA in the past, but seemed compelled for reasons that we who have been working on this issue might think are obvious, to join now.
Could it be that more of these not-so-progressive progressives, so-called moderate or corporate Democrats are now seeing the light, or at least the science that tells us that MFA will save money, lots of money, and save lives, lots of lives, as we need only to look as far as COVID19 to know that would be absolutely true?
Could it be that these same self-described skeptics and defenders of the Affordable Care Act and the Confuse-the-Public Option, are beginning to see that what is really needed at the bare minimum now, especially in light of our shared national nightmare of COVID19, is Healthcare no longer tied to employment, and where priorities are dictated by public need not corporate greed?
Or could it be that at least among Democrats, I know it would be too much as yet to expect this of Republicans in government perhaps, but at least among Democrats, that they take the word of our new President to heart and recognize that we can’t allow ourselves to be numb to the statistics, and honor the lives of those lost or who have suffered, and act on the science to at long last do the right thing and move forward now with what we know will fix these systemic problems by enacting Single Payer expanded and improved MFA, and the even more over-arching public needs addressed in the #GreenNewDeal?
A lot to ask for, to be sure, but not too much to work toward. And the time is now to do just that.