MFA and COVID19 Update – October 24, 2021

Oct 25, 2021 | PDA Blog

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

This week, world new cases and deaths due to #COVID19 showed declining numbers, thankfully, in countries like the US, India, Iran, and Thailand, but some noted alarming increases elsewhere such as the UK, Russia, Germany, and Brazil. The world’s percent vaccinated is now estimated to be some 37.4% of the total global population, and progress in global vaccination is still far too slow, with the total global death toll due to COVID19 now approaching a tragic 5 million worldwide.

The United States, by contrast is thought to be at 57.7% of our total population now fully vaccinated, and is ranked 52nd among the other countries of the world. That’s down from last week’s 47th, according to the Johns Hopkins Resource Center, and remains just behind Hungary and Ecuador.  And the worst state in the US this week, is still Wyoming at 43.3%, which is up just 1% from last week’s pitiful count. 

The US total COVID19 death toll has now reached a staggering 736,073. And as we know according to public health experts published in the distinguished Lancet Journal earlier this year, that means at least 294,429 people who have died in this country due to COVID19, would still be alive today if we had a #SinglePayer expanded and improved #MedicareForAll system in place to deal with this public health crisis. That is a system of #UniversalHealthcare that will save money and save lives now when we needed it, and still need it most, and to prevent those from dying needlessly in the days, weeks, months, and years ahead with the existential public health threats of climate change and rising global temperatures facing especially our children, grandchildren, and others of the world’s youth. 

This week Democrats in Washington DC are still play political tug-of-war on Capitol Hill, with a couple of rogue Corpora-crats seemingly able to extort the narrative for their own personal gain, to the highest level of their party. This, in spite of the damage it is doing to the de facto head of the Democratic party, President Joe Biden himself, who is having to capitulate from even his incrementalist measures of economic justice in his Build Back Better legislation.

Thanks to these rogue Dems and a unified opposition party, Biden’s approval numbers are apparently now plummeting, with especially a widening partisan gap, some 88 points spread between Democrats and Republicans. According to Gallop that ranks among the largest approval divides in more than eight decades of measurements, with Donald Trump being the only president to receive more politically polarized approval ratings with his gap of 92 percent just before the 2020 elections.

But as the New York Times pointed out just yesterday, even if the reconciliation bill, once passed, results in substantive improvements for working people in this country, expectations for it still remain low. As they say, it still “…won’t make him the one who finally secured free community college for everyone. Seniors won’t get free dental, hearing, and vision coverage from Medicare. And there won’t be a new system of penalties for the worst polluters.” 

And perhaps reflecting the mood of these outcomes, earlier in the week The Times reported “a quickening pace of announced Democratic retirements in the House”. Noting as they did so, personal issues, poor political prospects under redistricting, and “the rising Balkanization of the Democratic Party” as the primary reasons for it.  

How harshly is all of this impacting the public and the electoral base? To what extent is the continued rightwing media and COVID misinformation cartel contributing to this mass disheartening, especially in places like Florida where Gov. Ron DeSantis is still fighting mask mandates by calling special meetings of his state legislature, or in Maryland where physician Member of Congress Republican Andy Harris this week said proudly that he is prescribing debunked drug ivermectin for use against COVID19, and “lashed out against pharmacies for not making it readily available”?

I believe we can see some reflection of what this all means to the voting public in the recent polls reported by Quinnipiac earlier this week that showed after a year and a half of pandemic in the US, 81% of Americans do not expect life to return to normal anytime soon, and 26% say life will never return to normal. And further, they say some 62% are feeling disappointed, and 46% are emotionally exhausted, and yet, somehow 50% do remain hopeful.

So, looking to our leaders and our movement to seize the moment and perhaps build on that hope, to make lemonade from lemons in these days of tragedy and political firestorm, what can we glean from all of this?

In the process of discussion and debate on expanding and improving Medicare, have we moved the needle substantially closer to inclusion and equity? 

As our great friend and champion for Single Payer, now lead Legislative Assistant on Healthcare to Rep. Jayapal, Dr. Rachel Madley, Ph.D, pointed out in a workshop for the online convention of Physicians for a National Health Plan (PNHP) this week, all of this discussion has served to help demystify MFA, especially by tying in the move to lower Medicare eligibility age, and to add more comprehensive and much needed essential services.

Our great friend Amirah Sequiera, Legislative Director for National Nurses United, also pointed out in the same PNHP workshop, that we have undoubtedly made advances through all of this in the work, to find and support more champions for Medicare for All, to obtain more cosponsors for HR1976 the National MFA Act, and we now have better prospects for more Congressional hearings and in more committees of jurisdiction in pending proceedings looking ahead.

The bigger question, I think to ask ourselves, is have we acquired more support for Medicare for All among our family, friends, co-workers, and in our communities that will translate into electoral challenges and victories at the ballot box, and that will move legislation at the local, state, and federal level, to once and for all overcome the undue influence of the medical industrial complex on our bought and bossed political system in the US? 

I personally take solace in the words of Congressional Progressive Caucus Chair Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-WA, working diligently with her colleagues as we speak on this Build Back Better Act, who pointed out that it would be a mistake to not follow through on this policy.  

And, as MSNBC Opinion Columnist Hayes Brown said on Friday, “Let’s be clear: America’s health care system sucks.  The changes that are on the table won’t completely fix that, not so long as the healthcare industry continues to drive up costs for patients in search of profits.  But the options on the table do represent a real chance to make things easier for millions of Americans.  For the Southerners whose state have blocked them for years and the senior who live with massive tooth pain because they can’t afford dental work, this bill would make a world of difference. Democrats will be excoriated in attack ads for spending too much no matter how big the final bill is.  There’s no good reason not to provide the most help possible.”

This struggle for Healthcare Justice in America continues.

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