We take a look at the impact that Bernie Sanders campaign had on the Medicare for All movement. COVID-19 brings out the pinko commie in NY Governor Andrew Cuomo, who decides to socialize the NY hospital systems. People of color are, as with everything health-related, hit disproportionately by the effects of COVID-19, with blacks being diagnosed and dying in greater numbers than all others.
Bernie Sanders drops out of the Presidential race, and Ben & Stephanie reflect on his impact on the Medicare for All movement. Bernie had very little noticeable impact on public support for M4A (based on public opinion polls anyway), but his biggest accomplishment was starting to close the massive gap between the base of the Democratic party (and the country) and Democratic legislators and candidates.
However, coronavirus is having a major impact on public support for Medicare for All. The very first poll we’ve seen on M4A since the pandemic started shows an almost 10% increase in support.
Why? COVID-19 has exposed pretty much every alternative to M4A as stupid. All of the Democratic candidates who fought to maintain the employer-based healthcare system – claiming this means “you can keep your plan if you like it” – have a lot of mud on their face. To date, no Republican has been sighted calling to repeal Obamacare since the crisis began. What could the GOP position on healthcare possibly be this election cycle?
In one of the more extraordinary developments of the pandemic, New York has taken steps to merge all hospitals into a single provider system, sharing staff and all other resources. The goal is to prevent any one hospital from becoming overwhelmed by coronavirus patients, by sending staff, ventilators, and personal protective equipment wherever they’re most needed. This resembles a move towards socialized medicine, even though New York’s Governor Cuomo has been luke-warm towards the New York Health Act, which would establish a Medicare for All system in NY. Apparently there are no atheists in foxholes, and no capitalists during pandemics.
Even before coronavirus, though, our profit-driven provider system was dangerous for patients. Ben describes a picket by nurses at St. Elizabeth’s hospital in Boston, where dangerous understaffing was taking place just because the hospital didn’t want to send patients to other hospitals with more capacity – since they’d be losing those profits.
Coronavirus has also kicked off a remarkable 180 by a wide range of elected officials and policy wonks who have spent the past two years concern-trolling Medicare for All: how will we pay for it? you can’t just overhaul the whole system over night! Now they’re socializing hospital systems and passing multi-trillion dollar economic support programs.
Next, we spend some time looking at the racial inequities in the impact of coronavirus, as well as in access to testing and treatment.
In Chicago, black people are seven times more likely to die from coronavirus than white people. Of the 98 deaths from coronavirus in Chicago, 72% were black.
In downtown Nashville, three drive-through testing centers, including one outside the historically black Meharry Medical College, were not able to open for weeks due to lack of protective equipment. The only two active testing centers were in white suburbs of Nashville, run by Vanderbilt Medical Center. Incredibly, the CDC is not tracking coronavirus data by race.
One recent study looking at data from several states found that black patients presenting with the same symptoms, like cough and fever, were less likely to be recommended for coronavirus testing. Similar to widespread racial bias in other areas of medical care.
Finally, with rapidly rising unemployment, Congress will have to address widespread loss of health insurance in their next relief bill. The Rev. Jesse Jackson has called for Medicare coverage for everyone during this crisis, and a transition to Medicare for All. We are with Rev. Jackson on this!
We know that the healthcare industry will use this as an opportunity to try and get a bailout for their profits, though. The New York Times and centrist Democrats have called for “Medicare for All Coronavirus coverage.” Despite being inadequate for those who lose all healthcare coverage, this would will effectively serve as a massive subsidy for corporate health insurers who are seeing very high coronavirus-related costs (which taxpayers would then pick up), but very few other healthcare costs as people stay out of hospitals and clinics. Everyone should get ready to get involved with a major legislative fight when Congress reconvenes!
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