All through my time in Congress, I’ve labored with the agency perception that entry to inexpensive healthcare is a fundamental human proper and an absolute necessity. Whereas nice strides have been made through the years, most notably by means of the Inexpensive Care Act, thousands and thousands of Individuals proceed to slide by means of the cracks.
Since I grew to become chair of the Methods and Means Committee, we now have fought to make healthcare extra inexpensive and broaden entry to protection, whereas President Donald Trump and congressional Republicans have continued their campaign to weaken the system and to strip protections from these with preexisting circumstances. Persevering with to enhance our healthcare system has all the time been an pressing and difficult endeavor, however the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated present issues and likewise shone a harsh mild on long-standing healthcare inequities within the U.S..
The previous a number of months have been stuffed with devastation and despair, however they’ve additionally highlighted the resilience and power of our healthcare employees, grocery retailer workers, postal employees and others in communities all through the nation. This time has additionally proven that we should demand higher well being outcomes by means of focused investments and elevated oversight of present applications. Strengthening the system will save lives on this pandemic, in future crises and through extra secure occasions. I’m pleased with how the Methods and Means Committee acted swiftly and comprehensively to bolster our healthcare system within the face of COVID, however extra steps should be taken past our emergency response laws to make sure sustained enhancements to U.S. healthcare.
From early on on this disaster, reviews confirmed that well being, financial and structural inequalities in our society led to astronomically greater demise, an infection and hospitalization charges in communities of coloration. In late Could, the Methods and Means Committee convened a listening to throughout which consultants resoundingly confirmed that Black and Indigenous individuals in addition to different individuals of coloration are at a lot better danger of COVID-19 as a result of their well being is adversely affected by discriminatory insurance policies and structural racism. These biases endanger lives, and fixing these systemic issues should be a high precedence for Congress. In July I issued a report, Left Out: Limitations to Well being Fairness for Rural and Underserved Communities, which supplies in depth background on the problems impacting well being fairness in America, and discusses challenges related to scalable and sustainable options to handle well being inequities and eradicate disparities.
The coronavirus has additionally uncovered the gaps in protection choices. Report-breaking numbers of Individuals have misplaced their jobs throughout this disaster, in addition to their employer-based well being protection. I’ve repeatedly referred to as for the Trump administration to determine a particular enrollment interval for these people to entry the inexpensive insurance coverage choices they want.
Residents and employees in nursing properties and long-term-care services have been among the many hardest-hit populations within the pandemic. In some areas, the nursing home-related deaths made up greater than 50% of the entire COVID-19 fatalities. This demise toll is the results of years of regulatory rollbacks, low requirements and pay for employees, and a common disregard for this uncared for inhabitants. Elevated oversight and enforcement would assist defend each affected person and employee security.
Lastly, there’s the difficulty of healthcare staffing. Rural and underserved areas wrestle to fill obligatory front-line well being jobs, and present employees aren’t receiving enough safety or ongoing coaching. Additional, information has proven that front-line well being employees incomes decrease wages are disproportionately individuals of coloration and girls, one other instance of the virus disproportionately affecting these populations.
We have now an ethical crucial to equip our healthcare system and society at giant with the instruments and sources obligatory not simply to stop the following pandemic, but additionally to ship equal care to all Individuals. Race, geography and skill to pay have been determinants of healthcare for a lot too lengthy, and if we don’t focus our full consideration on strengthening look after probably the most susceptible, the following well being disaster will end in even better devastation.
The 116th Congress: Policymaking Amid the Pandemic