MFA and COVID19 Update – May 2, 2021
By Dr. Bill Honigman, PDA Healthcare Human Rights, Coordinator – Progressive Democrats of America
This week worldwide cases of #COVID19 continued to surge, mostly due to the second wave in India and now other countries in South America besides Brazil are showing rising numbers. COVAX, the cooperative global effort to vaccinate especially lower income countries in need, has come under particular strain as its largest member producer, namely India, has had to reduce its global contribution from about 77% earlier to about 7% now in order to return to vaccinating their own people.
Here in the US this week, vaccinations continue at a record pace, now at about 2.5 million per day being given, and about 30.8% of the total population thought to be fully vaccinated. And a nation, weary of social restrictions, welcomed the lifting of the need to wear masks when outdoors for those fully immunized, at least when not in crowded places.
Ever mindful as we are that the cumulative US COVID death toll has reached a stunning 576,339 to date, and that an estimated 40% of those total deaths, or 230,535 of those lost friends, co-workers, and family members would be alive today if we had had a #SinglePayer expanded and improved #MedicareForAll system in place to deal with this national public health emergency, as we should have had all along, and should have still to deal with the next pandemic coming our way.
Just as we have called attention to the larger need for Healthcare as a human right in this country, including all manner of COVID and non-COVID related care, that includes the treatment of chronic medical conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and obesity that put us all at risk for viruses and other serious health threats, and as is the case in all other wealthy so-called civilized countries, we were happy to hear our still new President utter those same words in his speech to Congress this week.
President Biden’s mention in his speech of lowering health insurance premiums and deductibles, and lowering drug prices was promising, but without specifically mentioning expanding Medicare eligibility or expanding benefits to include critically needed services like mental health, long term care, dental, vision, and hearing care, was also perplexing, both in its obvious limitations but also in how he intends to actually make even those few things happen.
All of which drives the question, when, if not now, at a time in which we are faced with so many dead and suffering due to this public health crisis, that found us without a real public health system, where we the people could prioritize and allocate resources to where they were actually needed, when if not now, would be the time to move forward with real Universal Healthcare? A system where ALL of the people get ALL of the care. A system financed and controlled by public interests not commercial profit-first interests where, as can be expected, nothing gets done on our behalf unless somebody somewhere stands to make money by doing so.
That was certainly the case as we saw early on in this pandemic, when we saw COVID testing and personal protective equipment (PPE) for our frontline providers being limited due to somebody’s bottom line. And it persists now as we are still faced with medically underserved communities throughout the country, especially our BIPOC communities, still not getting the Healthcare that they need, now when they need it most.
Isn’t it time for the Biden/Harris administration to follow the science, not just the science of vaccinology and epidemiology, but of public health and economics, and adopt a system that will put we the public in charge of resources that we need for our own health? A system that we know will save money and save lives?
Isn’t it time to move past making Healthcare more “affordable” or more “accessible” and actually make it a human right, now when we need it most, by finally enacting a Single Payer expanded and improved Medicare for All system for the US?
Clearly, the answer is, yes, it is time.