Biggest public threat: health care for profit

WW editorial

The coronavirus COVID-19, first detected in China, has now spread around the world. 

With hundreds of cases already identified across the U.S., this potential public health emergency has exposed glaring deficiencies in preparedness. Few people were reassured when Vice President Mike Pence said that health insurance will cover the cost of a test for COVID-19. 

The fact is that the supply of tests is woefully inadequate for this mass outbreak. Even things as basic as medical masks are in short supply.

The anti-science president has assigned a pathetic $8.1 billion in federal funds to combat COVID-19. His behavior thus far has been one of do-nothing criminality. 

He offers useless statements like “It’s all going to work out.” as a solution, and actually promised at a Feb. 10 campaign rally: “By April, you know, in theory, when it gets a little warmer, [the virus] miraculously goes away.” 

Because the disease threatens his second-term campaign, it appears the president may be trying to manipulate infection statistics. For instance, the presidential office is not attempting to solve the problem of a cruise ship of thousands of potentially infected passengers that is moored in San Francisco Bay — people who would spike the U.S. disease rate if they set foot on dry land. 

According to the New York Times, “As the government’s scientists and leading health experts raised the alarm early and pushed for aggressive action, they faced resistance and doubt at the White House — especially from the president — about spooking financial markets and inciting panic.” (March 8)

Trump is not the only obstacle to delivering the response that is urgently needed. Racism and poverty will once again limit access to information, testing care and medication. Moreover, people living in shelters, dependent on mass transit or in other ways subjected to a high level of potential contact with carriers who are unaware they are infected could be at higher risk of contracting COVID-19.

Big Pharma, under fire for its role in fueling opioid addiction, will put profit first in the development of treatment and preventive medication. For-profit hospitals will do anything to keep costs down — at the expense of sick human beings. 

The capitalist class is most worried about workers not coming to work, airline flights being cancelled, shoppers and diners staying home, and higher medical bills that private insurers will have to cover. 

That’s what’s causing Wall Street to get the jitters, sending stocks into freefall on multiple days.

Health care is a right!

The case for implementing a single-payer health care system — popularized by the Sanders campaign as “Medicare for All” —  could not be stronger. The glaring need was already present before the world even heard of COVID-19. Now coronavirus is a household word.

Mass sentiment that health care is not only a basic necessity, but a basic human right is a major factor driving Bernie Sanders’ popularity.

Medicare for All is the simple and reasonable proposition that if the U.S. government can provide health care for people over 65, it can provide health care for everyone in the country. Funds can be made readily available by cutting the Pentagon budget and taxing the 1%. What’s wrong with that?

 It’s not profitable! That’s why the Democratic Party apparatus has coalesced to crush the Sanders movement. This attempt briefly drove stocks back up after Biden pushed Sanders down in the Super Tuesday primaries.

And that’s why it will take more than an electoral campaign to win health care for all. The movement that the Sanders campaign set in motion has to stay in the streets — no matter what happens with the election — and say, “People before profits,  health care is a right!”

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