Healthcare

I think one unforeseen consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic is that it has given us the opportunity to look at our national philosophy. This crisis is reminding us how interdependent and interconnected we all are, and how responsible we all are for each other. We are doing personal hygiene better and quarantining ourselves, not only to protect ourselves, but also to prevent the disease from spreading even faster and killing people we may never meet.

The pandemic has given us pause, a "forced opportunity" as some have said, or perhaps a "teachable moment" to evaluate where we are going in society. In this moment, we should take the time to consider that, perhaps, in optimizing for profit, we have lost sight of what is really important. Greed has become the national religion -- maybe now is the time for our own national Reformation.

Before Pres. Ronald Reagan, greed was certainly prevalent, but was still regarded as a vice. Reagan brought greed out from the shadows and made it fashionable, instead of being regarded as a vice to be shunned. For many, money is not the most important thing, but the only thing that matters.

I think the pandemic has also shown us the need for universal healthcare that is not tied to employment. Here just in New Mexico, over 100,000 New Mexicans have lost not only their jobs, but also their employment related healthcare.

Millions of people are in essential jobs. Many are paid only minimum wage, and they are either forced to work even when they are sick, or they are out of work and have no money for healthcare -- and so they are uninsured during this pandemic. Many of these poorly-paid workers are living paycheck to paycheck. If they get sick, they either stay home and can’t pay bills, or they continue to work and spread the virus at work to other essential workers and to patrons.

Our for-profit healthcare system has resulted in shortages caused by the profit motive, something that Senator Bernie Sanders has been warning about for decades. Bernie's plans are always regarded as too expensive, and so the mainstream media has attempted to relegate him to crackpot status. But now that we are living in the pandemic, many people are talking about covering COVID-19 treatment and drugs for everybody without regard for insurance -- which is the essence of universal healthcare! Perhaps it takes a disaster like this for Americans to realize that we really do need universal healthcare. Let’s get it done.

Our for-profit healthcare system also causes doctors to spend 30% of their time on paperwork, instead of treating patients. The country is already short of doctors, so how is this helpful? We can solve the doctor shortage first by eliminating their paperwork duties, and then we can make medical school affordable to make it easier for people to become doctors. Many doctors are saddled with debt, which drives up the cost of providing healthcare, because they need to pay back those six-figure debts.

A whopping two thirds of bankruptcies in this country cite medical bills as a significant cause. Read This is the real reason most Americans file for bankruptcy.

What is the solution from Congress (both parties)? Their solution is to make bankruptcies more difficult! This “solution” supports banks over citizens, showing that Congress works for the banks and not for us.

I enthusiastically support the efforts of the Health Security for New Mexicans Campaign. They have been working for 20 years to implement universal healthcare within NM, which is necessary because of the Federal Government’s failure to provide any leadership on this important issue.