The coronavirus COVID-19 has made the consequences of problems too long ignored increasingly obvious. It is also making seemingly outlandish proposals into obvious solutions.
The only weapon available to slow the devastating spread of this new virus has been the sudden imposition of isolation orders. Millions who cannot work from home have followed the orders, but have been left with neither income nor health insurance benefits.
Those who get the virus aren’t sure if they will be able to pay for treatment. Hospitals aren’t sure how they will pay for the treatment either. No one is sure when they will go back to work, or if there will be a job to go back to.
Andrew Yang, recently considered only a fringe hopeful for the Democratic presidential nomination, proposed a universal basic income of $1,000 a month as the solution to inevitable economic disruptions that will be caused as new technologies eliminate jobs. With unemployment filings exceeding 20 million and a $2 trillion stimulus package intended to save the economy, Yang’s idea, applied to the disruptions of a pandemic, seem less fringe.
That same transformation is happening to the idea of universal health care. COVID-19 has exposed the long-disparaged touchstone of former presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders as the best way to ensure both a healthy population and a sustainable health care infrastructure.
The ugly realities in the current system are that too many people cannot access appropriate health care while too many health care providers face financial ruin when they don’t have insurance companies to bill or cannot supplement their revenues with profitably priced, nonemergency medical procedures.
Liberals build safety nets for the financially or medically fragile and pay for it with bloated, bureaucratically hidebound government programs.
Conservatives resist government payouts and insist that recipients prove their need, resulting in even more bureaucracy and bloat.
The wealthiest nation on earth should be able to make sure every person has health care and does not go hungry. Thanks to COVID-19, the ways to make that happen are staring us in the face.