The Merits of Medicare for All Have Been Proven by This Pandemic

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      It’s not just our health care in the form of treatments and hospitalizations that is showing itself to be wholly inadequate in the face of a pandemic. The pharmaceutical industry, which has also preyed upon Americans for far too long, is charging outrageous prices for drugs that taxpayers paid to help them develop. Amidst the worst medical crisis in modern history, the drug manufacturer Gilead has set the price for remdesivir—a drug that has shown modest success in COVID-19 treatment—at a whopping $3,120 per patient. Infuriatingly, that same company, which made good use of U.S. tax dollars in its research and development, is licensing the drug to generic manufacturers outside the U.S. to produce remdesivir at a substantially lower cost to non-American patients.

      The shocking extent of the coronavirus crisis in the United States is explained in large part by a libertarian economic approach. It is the same sort of approach that successive administrations have taken in addressing our health care needs and can be boiled down to the adage, “survival of the fittest.” Rather than imposing rules and regulations to protect Americans through a nationalized health care system and an aggressive cost-control mechanism for lifesaving drugs, Americans have been left at the mercy of their employers, health insurance and pharmaceutical companies, and private hospitals. Similarly, instead of taking a strong federal approach to controlling the spread of the coronavirus as other nations have successfully done, the Trump administration has washed its hands of any responsibility for the virus’ spread. An absence of strong federal guidelines on how people need to protect themselves has resulted in a culture war of comical proportions where Fox News-fed Republicans claim that rules requiring protective face masks are akin to “practicing the devil’s laws.”

      Such hyperbolic language is reminiscent of the hysteria over so-called “death panels” in the early years of the Obama administration. That phrase was used to cast the most modest of government regulations of our health care system as a scenario where dispassionate committees of technocrats would decide who gets to live or die. Never mind that such a description was a more apt one for our existing system of care where corporate executives decide which treatments to pay for and which to forego.

      Just as progressives were right more than a decade ago that a single-payer or Medicare for All system was best poised to meet our health care needs, that same rallying cry for such a universal and free health care plan remains more relevant and appropriate than ever. Even the New York Times agrees, admitting perhaps a bit reluctantly that, “A single-payer system in which one entity (usually the federal government) covers every citizen regardless of age or employment status, could work.” But is it too late?

      Jesus: Hey, Dad? God: Yes, Son? Jesus: Western civilization followed me home. Can I keep it? God: Certainly not! And put it down this minute--you don't know where it's been! Tom Robbins in Another Roadside Attraction

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