Fortunately for President Trump, he can avail himself of the finest medical care in the world after America belatedly learned he was suffering from the effects of COVID-19. By the time we knew he had the virus, Trump had already become a super-spreader, attending fundraisers and a rally.
With the illness, he also has a pre-existing condition. Were he like average people who have health insurance, he could not be denied coverage should complications arise after he recovers. That’s thanks to the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare.
Prior to becoming law, health insurers routinely denied coverage to patients with preexisting conditions, often resulting in catastrophic health and/or financial consequences. If, for example, you were once diagnosed with pneumonia, if you became ill with coronavirus you would not be covered.
But if the president and his Republican Senate allies get their way, Obamacare’s preexisting condition provision will end and we’ll be back to the bad old days because that’s what the health insurance industry wants. The GOP makes no bones about who it serves, those insurer profits — already obscene — far more important than the health and financial stability of America’s working families.
Despite his promises over the last four years to repeal and replace the ACA with “beautiful health care,” Trump did nothing more than sign a meaningless executive order last month.
Now he’s in a rush to get Amy Coney Barrett on the Supreme Court by Nov. 10 to hear Trump’s Justice Department arguments for overturning ACA. She is already on the record as against elements of the law, so with a 6-3 conservative majority we can be reasonably certain how SCOTUS will come down.
Not far behind will be Roe v Wade, which Barrett opposes, and the court’s same-sex marriage ruling, a SCOTUS decision Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito want to revisit.
For eight months the virus has raged through America and, not surprisingly, through the White House, pushing the health care system to its limit, with 7.5 million confirmed COVID cases and early 215,000 deaths, about 1,000 dead people every day.
I won’t relitigate the president’s gross negligence here. I’ll simply say when Trump faced his first major crisis, he failed miserably. COVID is the fourth largest mass casualty event in American history after the Civil War, World War II and the 1918 flu pandemic.
What was stunning, however, was Trump telling the public last week he finally understands the disease, but only after he contracted it and after mocking Joe Biden for protecting himself and others by wearing a mask.
If he really does understand COVID, he should also understand how it has exposed the disparity in our broken health care system.
Trump was flown on Marine One to Walter Reed Medical Center last Friday evening where an entire team of doctors treated him with expensive drugs during a three-day stay for which he will receive no bill. Shouldn’t it work that way for all Americans? It certainly does in other developed countries.
COVID treatment is an expensive proposition for those with serious conditions. Families have co-pays and other expenses to cover, not to mention the emotional distress they suffer. But if we agree health care is a right and not a privilege, why can’t those families get the kind of care the president enjoyed?
The health insurance middlemen won’t be out of the picture anytime soon, but we can and we should regulate how they provide coverage, which is why the pre-existing condition coverage is a popular feature of ACA. We can strengthen ACA and provide a public option to compete with private insurance, as Biden has proposed. We can also regulate drug pricing and expand Medicaid for low-income Americans.
None of that will happen as long as Republicans are in power and armed with a half-dozen Supreme Court justices hot to do their dirty work.
I don’t care how you vote, but sooner or later you and your loved ones will need quality, affordable health care. The GOP has done nothing to facilitate that and, in fact, fiercely opposes health care reform with the same flames they’ve thrown at Medicare.
Oh, you don’t think Republicans would touch Medicare? Please think again, because terminating Medicare has been the party’s Holy Grail since it was enacted in 1965.
After he apparently discharged himself from Walter Reed Monday, the president returned to the White House and removed his mask as he posed for pictures on the Truman Balcony. Still infected, video clearly showed him struggling to breathe. Meanwhile, close aides and allies who have been in contact with Trump have tested positive as have some White House staff, even as Trump tells Americans not to be afraid of the virus.
It’s not fear, Mr. President. It’s caution. You should try it some time.
Trump’s behavior is both selfish and reckless. Do not listen to this president or his toadies where your health is concerned. Stay safe.