MFA and COVID19 Update – September 12, 2021

Sep 13, 2021 | PDA Blog

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

This week, world cases of #COVID19 rose by only another 421 thousand which is almost an order of magnitude less than the approximately 3.2 million new cases globally that was last week’s increase.  Total global deaths did rise by another 78 thousand, for a very grim total now of over 4.6 million deaths worldwide due to the pandemic.  Case numbers overall were still increasing slightly in the US, with an increase now again seen this week in the UK, while leveling or decreasing elsewhere in most of the world.

Vaccinations continue to gain globally, this week with an estimated 30% of the total world population now thought to be fully vaccinated compared to last week’s 27.9%.  Again, that compares with the U.S.’ worst states for percentage vaccinated, mostly in the red states of course, which remain only in the upper 30’s to lower 40’s percent range vaccinated for their populations.  

Unfortunately, we still must point out that much of the world’s global south as yet remains unvaccinated.

11,669 Americans died due to COVID19 this week alone, that’s up almost 1,000 from 10,800 last week, for a total now of 659,556 cumulative US deaths for the pandemic to date.  And as we know, an estimated 40%, or 263,822 of those who have died would be alive today if this country had the political will to put into place a #SinglePayer expanded and improved #MedicareForAll system of #UniversalHealthcare like most all other advanced countries of the world who have out-performed ours in response to this massive public health challenge.

This week saw the President of the United States go toe-to-toe with his political foes, and especially those looking to take back Congress in the upcoming mid-terms, by imposing public health mandates straight out of the Supreme Court rulings protecting the public well-being and vaccine mandates dating all the way back to Jacobson v. Massachusetts in 1905.  At that time, Justice John Marshall Harlan said, “Real liberty for all could not exist under the operation of a principle which recognizes the right of each individual person to use his own, whether in respect of his person or property, regardless of the injury that may be done to others.”

And what exactly did President Biden mandate from that century’s old mandate that set the collective hair on fire of Republican governors across contemporary America?  That…

  1. OSHA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, a governmental body founded by Republican President Richard Nixon, should be concerned enough with its charge to require workers in employer groups of 100 or more to either be vaccinated or regularly tested for COVID as effecting approximately half of the entire US workforce or some 80 million Americans.
  2. Federal agencies and their employees might act themselves as a model for other employers and set as a standard of 100% compliance with vaccinations for the well-being of everyone, including the public that they serve.
  3. A show of dedication to schools and the safety of children, still not qualified to be vaccinated, by having mask and vaccine and/or testing mandates and guaranteeing funding for staff complying with those mandates to be fully supported by the federal government.
  4. Invoking the Defense Protection Act to address the long overdue need for more available COVID testing, which has been an issue in our pathetic profit-driven response to the pandemic since its earliest days 18 months ago, and remains a major reason why we have suffered so many losses to this virus by our inability to know and respond to a measured public health threat as a result.
  5. Along those lines, new money for developing new drugs for treating COVID19 in all of its manifestations, making vaccinations perhaps be not the only aspect of COVID-care that could be called “universal”, meaning free of cost at the point of service and freely available.
  6. More new money for all businesses still suffering under restrictions due to negative impacts to commerce in these economically challenged times.

All of this might seem reasonable, or even minimalist to those of us who know that to more effectively deal with the public health nightmare of COVID19 what we really need is a Healthcare system based on human need not commercial profit-first interests, but it is quite something else to the others on the extreme opposite side of the partisan divide, especially those with presidential aspirations themselves.

And how does this translate into what’s going on right now in the budget and infrastructure negotiation in Congress?  Will Democrats speak, act, and vote like Democrats, or cave into their corporate sponsors saying, “Oh, we can’t spend that kind of money on Healthcare, or Climate for that matter.”, all the while, fast-tracking more money to projects for the military, fossil fuel, and medical industrial complex donor groups who they think are keeping them in office?

The Healthcare aspects of President Biden’s proposed Build Back Better Act as part of the infrastructure package are at least rumored to be on the brink of some serious setbacks.

The proposed addition of dental, vision, and hearing benefits as clearly needed to make Medicare more holistic and even preventive to avoid more costs on the back end, appears to be likely compromised with such notions as phasing benefits in over 7 or 8 years, and possible 50/50 cost sharing, coverage for routine visits only and none at all for procedures including crowns, extractions, dentures, and implants, and limiting coverage for eyewear to an extremely low amount that will likely cost-shift to consumers considerably just to get a product that seems to be at least an agreeable part of one’s appearance.

I mean, how penny-wise and pound-foolish is all of this?

Further cost-shifting is likely with the rumored abandonment of establishing an Out-of-pocket Cap on Medicare expenses more generally, and even abandoning lowering Medicare eligibility age altogether.

And the final frontier on Medicare expansion, which most of us believed had at least some kind of bipartisan support, the ability for Medicare to negotiate down drug prices is now being threatened further by the idea that the Senate Parliamentarian might once again consider it not to be a budgetary issue, throwing it back to being subject to a filibuster.  That’s despite the fact that it most certainly is reasonable to think that it has widespread personal and public budgetary implications, personally at least in how much of your monthly spending has to be directed toward medications recommended to you by your doctor, especially when that dictates the quality and quantity of your life as a senior or disabled person in this country, and publicly in how much exactly will the government subsidize those life determinants.

So once again, we have status quo Democrats arguing against any kind of meaningful Medicare expansion in favor of Medicaid expansion that Republican statehouses, enabled by the US Supreme Court opted out of under that Affordable Care Act.  And despite almost three quarter of a million who have died from COVID19 and the potential to have saved 40% of those lost lives under a Single Payer Medicare for All system, they persist in their refusal to follow the will and the needs of the public they allegedly serve.

It’s time once again to challenge that status quo, at every level, from local to federal.  It’s time for a war against the terrorism of profit-first Healthcare.  It’s time for a war against preventable deaths in Healthcare, climate, poverty, racism, militarism, and political corruption.

It’s time once again to show up, stand up, speak up, organize, and take action.


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