Maybe the individual mandate wasn’t so crucial

From the NYT: “Many experts now view the individual mandate as a policy that did little to increase health coverage — but did a lot to invite political backlash and legal challenges.

“The newest evidence comes from census data released Tuesday, which shows health coverage in the United States held relatively steady in 2019, even though Congress’s repeal of the mandate penalties took effect that year. …

“Obamacare’s insurance subsidies, via tax credits, brought more stability to the marketplace than originally expected. The credits are structured to keep premiums affordable for low- and middle-income Americans even when the base price of insurance rises. The vast majority of Obamacare enrollees — between 80 percent and 90 percent, depending on the year — buy their coverage with these credits.

“It’s also possible the mandate did have some effect during its brief life in making the purchase of health insurance more of a norm. When the Kaiser Family Foundation surveyed the public on the issue in 2018, it found that only half of respondents knew the penalties had been repealed. The mandate penalty may live on in Americans’ minds, even after Congress wiped it off the books.’

Many experts now view the individual mandate as a policy that did little to increase health coverage — but did a lot to invite political backlash.

Treasonable noticing of seditious facts

Nicholas Kristoff in the NYT: “The newest Social Progress Index, shared with me before its official release Thursday morning, finds that out of 163 countries assessed worldwide, the United States, Brazil and Hungary are the only ones in which people are worse off than when the index began in 2011. And the declines in Brazil and Hungary were smaller than America’s. …

“The United States, despite its immense wealth, military power and cultural influence, ranks 28th — having slipped from 19th in 2011. The index now puts the United States behind significantly poorer countries, including Estonia, Czech Republic, Cyprus and Greece.”

A measure of social progress finds that the quality of life has dropped in America over the last decade, even as it has risen almost everywhere else.

A horror tale from our frelled up healthcare system

Our system of commercial medicine, dominated by private insurance, regional groups of private hospitals, and other powerful interests, looks more and more like a numbers racket. We would like to think we have health care that incidentally involves some wealth transfer; what we actually have is wealth transfer that incidentally involves some health care. In America today, malady is physical illness and the political evil that surrounds it. We are ill in a way that costs us freedom, and unfree in a way that costs us health.

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