Apparently, “Medicare for All” can save us from coronavirus now.
This is pretty incredible stuff.
I knew the basics of “Medicare for All” — dismantling private insurance and turning everything over to the government so we could pay tens of billions of dollars that no one knows how we’re going to get so we can have “free” health care.
That much I was familiar with.
Minnesota Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar dropped some real heavy truth on me, though: If the government subsumes the private health care industry and takes over the country’s massive, unwieldy medical apparatus, it’ll help fight COVID-19.
“It’s easy to mock Medicare for All until there’s a pandemic,” Omar tweeted Thursday.
It’s easy to mock Medicare for All until there’s a pandemic
— Rep. Ilhan Omar (@Ilhan) March 6, 2020
Where’s the clap emoji? I need like ten of those, interspersed with me simply typing out “THIS.”
I suppose you can’t ask for a whole lot of context on Twitter, given the limitations of the medium.
That said, I’m not quite sure what that sentence was even supposed to mean. I looked on Omar’s House webpage and her Facebook — places where she could explicate this further — and this is basically the extent of what I found:
On her Twitter are also the usual messages accusing President Donald Trump of cutting funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and “attack[ing] America’s government,” which are wildly inaccurate and would be funny if deliberate ignorance and fear-mongering weren’t so serious.
However, there was nothing that explained to me why the government taking over health care would somehow be a hedge against the disease known as the “novel coronavirus.”
If only there was some sort of example of how a government-run health care system dealt with the disease so I could see an object lesson in how this all works.
Take China, a nation struggling to cover all of its people via a socialized system. It’s where the outbreak started — and where the government response has been to silence whistleblowers and build field hospitals because their current system can’t take care of the victims.
A 2018 profile of China’s health care system by The New York Times revealed plenty of cracks.
“An economic boom over the past three decades has transformed China from a poor farming nation to the world’s second-largest economy. The cradle-to-grave system of socialized medicine has improved life expectancy and lowered maternal mortality rates,” Sui-Lee Wee wrote.
“But the system cannot adequately support China’s population of more than one billion people. The major gaps and inequalities threaten to undermine China’s progress, social stability and financial health — creating a serious challenge for President Xi Jinping and the Communist Party.”
How inadequate is it? Let Wee describe it for you in the story’s first few graphs:
“Well before dawn, nearly a hundred people stood in line outside one of the capital’s top hospitals,” she wrote.
“They were hoping to get an appointment with a specialist, a chance for access to the best health care in the country. Scalpers hawked medical visits for a fee, ignoring repeated crackdowns by the government.
“A Beijing resident in line was trying to get his father in to see a neurologist. A senior lawmaker from Liaoning, a northeastern province, needed a second opinion on her daughter’s blood disorder.
“Mao Ning, who was helping her friend get an appointment with a dermatologist, arrived at 4 a.m. She was in the middle of the line.”
It’s worth noting that China’s system isn’t fully socialized, although they’re headed there. It’s a patchwork of overstretched public care and private institutions that try (and fail) to plug the holes.
The country is actually re-socializing its health care after free market reforms in 1984.
Of course, as of Saturday morning, China had 80,652 people infected and 3,070 dead. Granted, it was where the virus started, but the next closest nation, South Korea, had just 7,041 confirmed cases and 48 deaths.
I’m fully aware this isn’t necessarily a compelling argument that socialized medicine is responsible for a pandemic.
On the other hand, it’s compelling enough to beat a tossed-off line about how “Medicare for All” is a great way to fight pandemics.
There’s something truly head-scratching about Omar’s tweet, as if it was just something that entered her head while she was in traffic and she thought to herself, “Yeah, that’s worth tweeting.”
There’s no evidence to back this up. There’s nothing anyone can hold up to say that our system, patchwork though it may be, is doing worse when it comes to coronavirus than any state-run system, including China’s.
There’s nothing that says a theoretically private system here — with more innovation, less red tape, fully transparent pricing and actual competition — would do worse than “Medicare for All.”
This is to say nothing of the fact that Omar is currently attacking the governments for its response to coronavirus yet wants government to take over all of our health care, presumably under the premise that people who believe like her will always be running it.
There’ll hopefully be an answer to coronavirus sometime in the near future.
My guess is that the answer will be waiting this out and hoping that the fear-mongering is just that.
The answer, however, isn’t socialized medicine.
Omar’s tweet is yet another example of a Democrat using coronavirus as a political bludgeon, another sad attempt by a politician to convince the American electorate that if you only let them order things, everything would fall into place.
Two seconds of thought, however, and this tossed-off clapback dissolves like a wet tissue.
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