If this country is to “better clean up” from the coronavirus pandemic, it must be understood that the United States cannot bury half a million of its own and then go back to normal healthcare.
Of all the terrifying truths the past year revealed, none is as bad as the reality that prioritizing the bottom line of billionaires over the health and safety of Americans doesn’t work. When Covid-19 swept the United States in 2020, fundamental flaws in that country’s for-profit healthcare system made it difficult to screen, treat, and vaccinate the most vulnerable among us. It cost lives as doctors, nurses and other frontline medical personnel sacrificed everything to care for the dying. It also cost taxpayers trillions of dollars as Congress passed one emergency funding bill after another to stay one step ahead of the crisis.
“The pandemic highlighted in fatal detail what nurses have known for decades: Our current health system, based on private employment-linked insurance, is a colossal failure, leaving far too many of our patients to suffer and die unnecessarily” says Bonnie Castillo, the registered nurse who serves as the executive director of the National Nurses United Union. “As we mourn the more than 500,000 people who have lost Covid, we re-enter the fight to ensure everyone receives quality healthcare, regardless of where they live, how much money they make, how healthy they are is whether he immigrates or not employment. Nurses will never rest until we do this. “
This struggle is being waged with renewed vigor in Congress now that the representatives Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) And Debbie Dingell (D-Me.) Introduced the Medicare for All Act of 2021. They did so with a sense of urgency that reflected both the moment of the pandemic and an understanding of where we are now in the historic battle to establish a pay-per-form healthcare system in the United States.
“While this devastating pandemic is shedding a bright light on our broken, for-profit healthcare system, we left almost half of adults under 65 uninsured or underinsured before COVID-19 hit. And we’ve done it cruelly, paying more per capita health care than any other country in the world, ”said Jayapal, chairman of the Progressive Congressional Caucus.
Affirming her colleague’s message, Dingell says, “A system that prioritizes profits over patients and ties coverage to employment could not cope with a global pandemic and will never meet the needs of our employees. In the world’s richest nation, patients shouldn’t start GoFundMe pages to provide life-saving healthcare to themselves or their loved ones. Medicare for All will build an inclusive health system that will not only open the door to caring for millions of our neighbors, but will also make it more efficient and effective than what we have today. Now is not the time to shy away from these generational struggles, it is the time to act. “