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Covid-19: A Wake-Up Call For Those Not Yet Woke.

Posted on | April 16, 2020 | No Comments

Mike Magee

Exactly one year ago, I penned a piece for Matthew Holt’s The Health Care Blog titled, “All For One, One For All.”

In laying out our vulnerability, I wrote:

“The U.S. has no  government-directed, national health planning apparatus. Service levels and reimbursement vary widely across an endless array of private and public offerings that have devolved into a ‘free-for-all.’ Our profit-driven, scientific research community regularly diverts resources from health planning and patient care, and our insurance system harbors an enormous number of health system middlemen to support ‘non-real’ work (16 positions for every one physician – half with no clinical role).”

Back then, THCB member, William Palmer MD, presciently replied:

“We have worked our way into a truly difficult cul de sac. There are now so many stakeholders, all making nice incomes, that the political will to change the system seems nearly impossible to gain. I think some of us are hoping for some extraneous catastrophic event to save the system.”

This week, one year later, I replied to Dr. Palmer:
“You were way ahead of the game, and certainly on the mark one year ago, in looking toward the possibility of an “extraneous catastrophe.” Covid-19 is already in the process of changing scope of practice, type of employment, standards of coverage, and the future of employer based insurance. Who could have predicted? But you did!”

Responding to the same article a year ago, Craig A.T. Jones wrote:

“The only way to extend Medicare to everyone is to dramatically reduce benefits which has two problems (1) the over 65 crowd will scream bloody murder that you have ruined the healthcare quality they were counting on (2) providers–doctors, nurses, hospitals would all have to get by with MUCH less $$ per patient which would be a shock to the system to say the least.”

This week, now one year later,  I replied:

“It’s fascinating to read this now, 1 year later. Your remarks laying out the challenges and obstacles are right on. Of course, the disruption of a pandemic to the institutions and the people who work in them is profound. The movement of physicians from private practice to employed status (with income give-backs and enforced insurance coverage rules for example), could markedly affect the trajectory of health care costs and the pace of transformation toward a national and universal care system – and, none of this could have been anticipated one year ago. And yet, here we are.”

In retrospect, as these postings support, our current dilemma was predictable. The “perfect storm” clouds had been gathering for awhile. They included the absence of national health planning; extreme profiteering and collusion within the health sectors; and a President who has more than made the case for a need to apply the 25th Amendment.

Covid-19 is a wake-up call for those not yet “woke.” But one year ago, at the publication of “Code Blue: Inside the Medical Industrial Complex”, I wrote in “All For One, One For All”:

“For far too long, our leaders have focused on how to make American corporations wealthy. But let us be clear – there is another way. We could have the courage and the will to reapply our more than ample health care assets and reject the status quo. We could vote in change on a large scale.  We could elect leaders willing to honestly address a simple, long overdue question “How do we make Americans healthy?”

It’s never too late. Let us begin.

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