Take the politics out of healthcare

If the United States had universal healthcare, we'd be miles ahead in the fight against the coronavirus. Instead, our scattershot approach is making winners and losers.

By

Opinion

April 27, 2020 - 10:16 AM

It shouldn’t be up to Kansas or any state in the nation to ensure their citizens are adequately tested for the COVID-19 virus. 

It’s a national problem, and as such developing a coronavirus test should be handled by the federal government, as is being done by just about every other country around the world.

Instead, every U.S. state is being forced to go it alone, re-inventing the wheel as myriad strategies are considered for not only how to adequately test their citizens but also how to score necessary supplies.

That’s argument No. 1 for a national health care system: We need one umbrella to handle a national emergency.

IN EARLY March, President Donald Trump assured the public that “anybody who wants a test, can get a test.”

That has never been true.

What has more often been the case is that either the privileged — professional athletes, the super wealthy and famous — or those who show an overwhelming preponderance of risk factors for the virus, get tested. 

As such, we still don’t know how widespread the virus is.

That’s argument No. 2 for a national plan. 

Healthcare should not be decided on privilege. It should be a universal right. 

MR. TRUMP’S promise that private companies such as Google, Target and CVS would work with the government to facilitate testing never came about. 

From the get-go, the World Health Organization advised the U.S. to develop a test protocol through its Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Instead, the U.S. balked, downplaying the seriousness of the virus.

By the time private labs were asked to join the effort in late February, valuable time had been lost.

The U.S. death toll from the pandemic is 54,000. The most of any country.

Despite that fact, the president refuses to insist on widespread testing, instead leaving it up to individual states. 

That’s argument No. 3: Had this begun as a full-scale national effort we would be much better equipped at this point.

IT WAS ONLY last week that Congress allocated funds to try to meet the demand for test kits — over Republican protests. 

As leader of the House, Nancy Pelosi once again was made the villain for holding up the legislation.

It’s to her that we owe our gratitude for the $25 billion allocated for the needed kits as well as $75 billion for hospitals and laboratories so that they can purchase the machinery, equipment, supplies and personnel needed to conduct widespread testing.

Even so, there’s still no national plan to manufacture one standardized test.

That’s argument No. 4: Were the necessary funding directed to only one entity — not 50 — then we could avoid this scattershot attempt. 

THE PRESIDENT has used the pandemic as a personal platform for his reelection with daily press briefings where he pontificates about our great system of healthcare. (It ranks 27th, down from sixth in 1990.)

Which brings us to argument No. 5: Take the politics out of healthcare. 

The issue continues to drive a deep wedge between our upper and lower classes, Republicans and Democrats, whites and minorities, and employers and employees.

Make healthcare a national program — just as we have done with Social Security and Medicare — and the issue becomes not whether we should have it, but how to fund it.

The difference is night and day. And Americans know it.

— Susan Lynn

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