MFA and COVID19 Update – May 9, 2021
By Dr. Bill Honigman, PDA Healthcare Human Rights, Coordinator – Progressive Democrats of America
This week worldwide cases of #COVID19 continued to rise, especially as we know in India, still hardest hit of all nations at present, although overall the rate of rise declined a bit from last week, which is very good news. COVAX, the international cooperative vaccination program, finally delivered shots to some African countries very much in need this past week, a very welcome sign of progress there. However, the spread of the more contagious variants across southern Asia in particular now is of heightened concern and requiring intensive resources overall.
Here in the US this week, while we were met with the good news that the Biden/Harris administration is now in agreement with waiving patents and intellectual property rights of big pharma vaccine makers, thanks in no small measure to the work of many in our #HealthcareJustice movement, to allow more widespread manufacturing and distribution of vaccinations around the world, we continue to fight vaccine and public health refusal in this country as a matter of dysfunctional political discourse.
And despite the domestic death rate week-to-week continuing to slowly decline, now at only 4,717 US COVID deaths this week, at least so we are being told, a new study of the Institute for Health Metrics Evaluation at University of Washington, is estimating under-reporting by traditional sources of COVID cases and deaths by as much as 57%. That would mean a cumulative total for US COVID deaths for the pandemic to date closer to 900,000 dead rather than the 581,056 quoted from conventional sources. And that means of course, the chance for more than 360,000 lives that could have been saved under a #SinglePayer expanded and improved #MedicareForAll system, had our political leaders felt capable of moving forward in such a meaningful and life-saving manner.
With only two new cosponsors added to HR1976 the national Medicare for All Act of 2021 since its reintroduction nearly two months ago now, many of us are wondering if inertia in Congress especially among the conserva-Dems can be overcome, at least in the short term, to even allow hearings, let alone a floor vote, on this life- and money- saving measure, not to mention the whole issue of how it could possibly get into a reconciliation bill in the US Senate.
So, we in turn might be looking more toward efforts at the state level to achieve these goals. And thankfully, once again champions in Congress are stepping up there as well with the much-anticipated re-introduction expected later this month of the State Based Universal Health Care (SBUHC) Act of 2021 by Rep. Ro Khanna of CA, who already has an impressive list of original cosponsors including previous lead sponsor of the same bill and Congressional Progressive Caucus Chair Rep. Pramila Jayapal of WA state.
This bill allows states to receive all federal monies that would ordinarily be coming their way for established federal programs like Medicare, Medicaid, CHIPs, and ERISA, if all criteria are met that go even beyond those of the Sec. 1332 Waivers of the ACA, and are more inclusive of further medical benefits and more efficient under a Single Payer system of reimbursement to medical providers under their proposed state plans. It is considered essential to those who have been working at the state level on this issue, and encountering as a major roadblock from would be adversaries the “What about the feds?” questions that seem all too often to end the discussions on needed reform.
So, the question remains, can we continue to raise awareness, engage the electorate, marginalize the opposition of the entrenched commercial interests in the medical industrial complex, in particular of the most egregious predatory players, namely big insurance and big pharma, to blow the political winds away from the money in the direction of we the people and the voters, whether for our states or the country overall?
Of course, we can. And yes, we will.