Since the Obama administration debate on what shape national health care should take I have periodically advocated free health care for the poor provided directly by medical staff on U.S. Government payroll. That is the most efficient way to include everyone and skip layers of bureaucracy and pay to middlemen insurance people. My suggestion was that the Veteran’s Administration hospital system could have been expanded greatly and combined with community service clinics to cover Veterans and the poor with a large surplus bed capability that could be ramped up in case of national emergency to provide auxiliary service to all Americans after the beds in regular hospitals systems not part of the V.A. hospital/community service clinics. Covid in the Omicron era could have easily been supported without undo strain on civilian, non-government hospitals.
This post isn’t intended to be an I told you so note. The purpose here is to reiterate the point that the nation is not prepared to provide quality walk-in medical service for 100% of the nation’s poor residents and citizens or for all Veterans either reportedly. Neither would it be able to handle a real, more lethal pandemic that has a fair chance of occurring sometime in the future because the entire world is packed with billions of souls, millions of biologists and transportation that allow same-day movement anywhere on the globe. If some sort of a serious genetically engineered pathogen or even another natural one from the usual suspects in Asia U.S. experts and medical capability, not to mention the economy so reliant on imports to exist, would go belly up as quick as a grizzly bear would eat a box of jelly donuts given the chance.
The next pandemic event may kill billions of souls indirectly via mass starvation when the heavily dependent on global supply chains economies break down. People are not as clever as they sometimes believe they are, so preparedness might be considered something akin to godliness, especially if it serves the meritorious purpose of relieving the poor of suffering created by the maladaptation of the national political economy to existential challenges presented by the shrinking of the world and population increase on the planet.