The title to this post is the title (sans the question mark) of a Common Dreams article dated March 25, 2020.[i] Similar claims have become a regular feature of leftist commentary on the pandemic. For many decades, a primary goal of leftists is for America to replace its healthcare system with a universal healthcare system. They were quite disappointed when Obamacare turned out not to be a universal healthcare system of their dreams but hoped that it could be used as a stepping stone to Medicare for All (‘MFA”). Trump pretty much dashed those hopes. Now they are attempting to exploit the COVID-19 pandemic to convince Americans that MFA would be better than America’s more capitalistic healthcare system. I hate to give them any tips, but it would help if they came up with some logical arguments to make their case.
I’ve regularly asked people who claim MFA would be better than America’s system to explain what the pandemic has to do with their claim. I’ve yet to get a credible explanation (most seem to think berating me or ridiculing the question is an explanation). I am compiling evidence that I believe will demonstrate the reverse of Common Dreams’ claim. I expect to publish that analysis soon. In the meantime, let’s sort out some other things that are wrong with Common Dreams’ claim.
Shockingly absent from the Common Dreams article and similar articles that I have read is a sound argument that MFA would work better against pandemics than the existing system. Their “arguments” typically boil down to something like this: “The U.S. was unprepared, slow off the blocks, and somewhere between ham-handed and idiotic in its decisions and responses.”
While those things are largely true, those things were also true of all countries (with possible, but unverifiable exception of China[ii]). On the other hand, American doctors, unlike Italy’s universal healthcare doctors, have not experienced this: “There are now simply too many patients for each one of them to receive adequate care. Doctors and nurses are unable to tend to everybody.” More generally, pointing out the shortcomings of America’s healthcare system is not proof that MFA would be better. For the COVID episode to prove that the pandemic proves that America’s system should be replaced with MFA, one must at least provide some solid evidence that MFA systems have performed better against the pandemic. Let’s explore what the Common Dream article did instead of offering such proof.
Common Dreams’s claim was not based on evidence. It was based on predictions that have since proved to be false. For example, the article says:
“…the U.K.’s National Health Service is well-positioned to cope. It has a clear and comprehensive emergency planning structure with the ability to optimize resource use, even after years of government budget cuts.”
Only a few days later, The Guardian published an article entitled, “A public inquiry into the UK’s coronavirus response would find a litany of failures.” That article reported, “During the last decade, funding for public health has been fragmented and downgraded.” It went on to list a long series of shortcomings of the system. (As is typical of MSM, The Guardian placed much of the blame on government incompetence and that the socialized healthcare system was not socialized enough—with no appreciation of the irony of the claim.)
Common Dreams then moved on to cite unverifiable evidence from totalitarian China as if it were true. Fail.
It also cited S. Korea’s relative success in battling the virus. So far it appears S. Korea is doing relatively well (good for them). However, among other things, South Korea (1) had a different history (e.g., SARS),[iii] (2) used a different pattern of containment strategies than most Western democracies (that worked comparatively better—possibly by luck), (3) had IT and infrastructure to trace infected people that few, if any, other countries had, and (4) has a culture, government, and other characteristics that are very different from those of Western countries. To base sweeping claims on one data point (S. Korea) is weak at best. To pick one healthcare system that happens (for who knows what all reasons) to be the best the world (some country had to be that) concerning one incident is not science, it’s cherrypicking. It is certainly no proof that MFA would work better in America than its existing system.
Having exhausted her imagination as to why Coronavirus might prove America needs MFA with such weak arguments, the author of the Common Dreams article moves on to something completely irrelevant to her argument for MFA. To wit, MFA would be cheaper. The issue of which system costs more has nothing to do with which system can best handle pandemics.
In short, the article titled “Coronavirus Proves It: We Need Medicare For All” proves nothing.
UPDATE: “CORONAVIRUS & SOCIALIZED MEDICINE: Why Healthcare in the UK, Italy is FAR Worse than America” provides some great additional observations.
[ii] China’s reported data will never be verifiable: See “Chinese scientists destroyed proof of virus in December” and “Where it all began: Wuhan’s virus ground-zero ‘wet market’ hides in plain sight.”