The schadenfreude is strong

After all, depriving millions of Americans of their health insurance in the middle of a pandemic is a remarkably stupid idea, even for this administration. Republicans deserve to suffer at the polls for this.

The solicitor general says a vote for the GOP tax cuts was a vote to eliminate protections for preexisting conditions.

Lesson from the past

From the NYT: “But America’s experience with polio should give us pause, not hope. The first effective polio vaccine followed decades of research and testing. Once fully tested, it was approved with record speed. Then there were life-threatening manufacturing problems. Distribution problems followed. Political fights broke out. After several years, enough Americans were vaccinated that cases plummeted — but they persisted in poor communities for over a decade. Polio’s full story should make us wary of promises that we will soon have the coronavirus under control with a vaccine. …

“Granted, there are countless differences between the fight against the coronavirus and the long-ago fight against polio. The global capacity for vaccine research and development is far greater than it was in the 1950s. Drug approval and manufacturing safety protocols have been refined since then, too. Already, just months into the current pandemic, there are far more vaccines in development against the coronavirus than there ever were against polio.”

The anatomy of a clusterfuck

“If you were to write a playbook for how not to prevent a public-health crisis, you would study the work of the Trump administration in the first three months of 2020. The Trump White House, through some combination of ignorance, arrogance, and incompetence, failed to heed the warnings of its own experts. It failed to listen to the projections of one of its own economic advisers. It failed to take seriously what has become the worst pandemic since the 1918 flu and the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. And when the White House finally awoke to the seriousness of COVID-19, the response it mustered managed to contain all the worst traits of this presidency. Trump and his closest aides have ignored scientists, enlisted family members and TV personalities and corporate profiteers for help, and disregarded every protocol for how to communicate during a pandemic while spewing misinformation and lies.”

Missed warnings, conflicting messages, and broken promises ? how the White House fumbled its response to the worst pandemic in a century

Another reason why we need universal healthcare

NYT: “But more than rate cuts or bursts of spending, economists say, the best short-term measures to prevent an economic downturn may be “automatic stabilizers” — existing programs or regulations that protect workers, provide low-cost health care or help companies get through a lean period. Some of these measures were adopted during another time of financial stress: the 2008 financial crisis.

“Assurances that many workers won’t have to choose between caring for their health and paying their rent is a crucial psychological factor as Italy and France shut hundreds of schools, Britain unlocks an “action plan” to prevent the virus’s spread and businesses across the Continent cancel trips and meetings to limit their employees’ exposure to the epidemic.”

More importantly, workers with paid sick time are more likely to stay home when sick and people with guaranteed access to healthcare (that won’t bankrupt them) will seek treatment promptly when sick and get the treatment (and quarantine, if necessay) they need. Our lack of universal coverage and reasonable sick leave policies endangers us all.

Europe’s social policies are sometimes seen as overly generous. Yet they may help cushion the economic impact of the virus.

We desperately need healthcare reform

Nicholas Kristof in the NYT: “Democrats’ internecine battle over so-called Medicare for all is largely irrelevant, because the plan won’t get through Congress. What’s imperative is simply achieving universal medical and dental coverage, either by a single-payer system (like Britain’s) or a multipayer system (like Germany’s); both work fine. What matters is the universal part.

“In some ways, America’s health care is outstanding. Specialized anti-cancer treatments are saving lives. But over all our system has two fundamental flaws.

“First, outcomes are mediocre and inequitable. Rich Americans live 20 years longer than poor Americans, and low-income American men have approximately the longevity of men living in Sudan. …

“The second fundamental problem with our health care system is that it delivers these second-rate outcomes at enormous cost.”

I would add that the coronavirus is a strong argument in favor of universal health coverage. Sick people with health coverage seek and get the care (and quarantine, if necessary) that they need. Sick people with no or inadequate coverage tend to avoid seeking treatment. That puts us all at risk.

China?s failures on the coronavirus are distracting us from the mess we have at home.