COVID-19 is Making the Case For Medicare For All.

Why we need guaranteed healthcare for all in the face of this global pandemic.

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Photo via Yabernt on Instagram

Since Sunday, the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 have jumped from 500 to over 1,000 in the United States, with cases particularly present in California, Washington, and New York, and the WHO has officially declared it a global pandemic. Last night, the NBA announced they were suspending the rest of the season after one of their players tested positive, and in New York, all SUNY and CUNY schools will be moving to online only for the remainder of the spring semester.

The Coronavirus is probably the single most terrifyingly obvious argument for Medicare for All the United States has ever seen.

While insurance companies have agreed to waive copays for testing, in Washington state testing for the Coronavirus costs $1,000 for the uninsured at a minimum. Today, almost 40% of Americans can not afford a $400 dollar emergency. When considering the number of people who are going to avoid getting tested because they cannot afford the tests, it’s time for the government to come to terms with the fact that Medicare For All is essentially the only way this virus can be contained in any meaningful way.

Without universal healthcare coverage and the guaranteed paid sick leave that comes along with the Medicare for All plan proposed by Bernie Sanders, this virus is going to continue to spread. At this moment, there are workers all across the country feeling ill, and whether they even have the virus or not they are going to work when they shouldn’t be because they cannot afford the time off. At the nursing home in New York State where I work, I’ve already spoken to workers at length about the dreaded possibility that they are forced to take time off but cannot afford to. Personally I have been working for my current employer for three years, and have yet to use an hour of sick time. I still do not have enough sick time to cover the recommended two weeks of self quarantining if I was exposed or felt symptoms.

The thought of anyone bringing this disease in to the nursing home and spreading it to the residents who have become my second family absolutely terrifies me, and it’s becoming increasingly difficult for any Medicare For All naysayers to deny that universal healthcare and paid sick leave would bring that possibility down significantly. In the context of a capitalist system where profit is what motivates the health insurance industry a virus like this is indefinitely more difficult to be contain, and it is already the most vulnerable among us to feel the harshest effects.

The announcement that Tom Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson had gotten tested for the virus with positive results only further highlights the fact that under our current system, even the necessity of finding out you have it is a luxury. Senator Ted Cruz is able to sit in the comfort of his home for two weeks and get paid. Matt Gaetz is able to do the same without any worry of costs or his financial wellbeing, and for the sake of the public health throughout this country every single person should be able to do the same. Medicare for All is the necessary step in order to stop rapid further spreading of this disease.

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Lauren is a writer & leftist with analysis on topics related to politics & policy. She can be reached at LaurenMartinchek@gmail.com or Twitter @xlauren_mx

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