As his administration actively works to strip insurance coverage from tens of millions of Americans fortunate enough to still have it, President Donald Trump late Monday once again urged the public not to fear the virus that has killed more than a million people across the globe because the U.S. has the "best" healthcare in the world—neglecting to mention he was provided a level of care that is systematically denied those who are unable to afford it.
In a video shot shortly after his return to the White House Monday evening following a brief stint in a specially designed presidential suite at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Trump told Americans who have contracted the coronavirus that "you're gonna beat it" and claimed that the U.S. has the "best medical equipment, we have the best medicines."
"Medicare for All means that the world class medical treatment the president is receiving is available to everyone."
—Rep. Pramila Jayapal
Entirely absent from the president's brief remarks was any acknowledgement that the treatment he received at Walter Reed—known to include Regeneron's experimental antibody therapy, Gilead's obscenely expensive and publicly funded drug remdesivir, and the steroid dexamethasone—is not readily available to the vast majority of Americans who are at risk of catching and falling seriously ill from Covid-19.
"The president might be the only patient on the planet ever to receive this particular combination of medicines," Dr. Jonathan Reiner, a professor of medicine at George Washington University, told CNN on Monday.
Epidemiologist Dr. Seema Yasmin added that "of course, this is the president of the USA. He is going to get the kitchen sink thrown at him medically, offered all there is—whether it's authorized under emergency use or not, in the case of the antibody treatment."
"But then there are 210,000 Americans who have died over the past few months because the pandemic response has been so bad," said Yasmin. "And they certainly didn't get access to this kind of treatment."
This isn’t just sick. It’s criminal. How dare he say “Don’t let it dominate your lives” after 210,000 died & hundreds of thousands permanently scared by #COVID19. Pardon me, but he’s talking like the spoiled jerk that he is. He won’t support #MedicareForAll. He got MedicareForOne https://t.co/vddHiNwR1T
— James J. Zogby (@jjz1600) October 6, 2020
Trump's comments came as his administration is waging a legal battle against the Affordable Care Act which, if successful, would eliminate healthcare coverage for the millions of people currently insured by the law's expansion of Medicaid as well as those who have purchased insurance on the exchanges. And far from supporting an expansion of Medicare coverage to everyone in the U.S., Trump has repeatedly proposed slashing funding for the program and vowed to continue targeting it if reelected in November.
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"Millions could lose coverage outright and protections for preexisting conditions could be overturned if the Trump administration's argument prevails at the high court," notes Vox's Dylan Scott. "Millions of people now have Covid-19 as a preexisting condition. The president says he wants to protect them. But four years into office, he still hasn't laid out a plan to do it."
"If the hospital could have admitted my father out of an 'abundance of caution,' would my dad still be here? We all deserve that opportunity, but only Trump had it."
—Kristin Urquiza, Marked by Covid
In a statement following Trump's release from Walter Reed, Kristin Urquiza—whose father died of Covid-19 in late June—slammed the president's "dangerous advice" to millions of potentially vulnerable Americans and added, "It's more clear than ever before that Trump cares about no one but himself."
"While in the hospital, Trump received top-notch medical care, including experimental remedies not yet available to the public and 24/7 monitoring from a full team of doctors and nurses," said Urquiza, co-founder of the public awareness campaign Marked by Covid. "This is a level of care available to the president. Thousands of others, like my dad, were told to go home and only come back when they couldn't breathe."
"My father is among the 210,000 people and counting who have died from this virus, perhaps because they are denied this level of care," Urquiza added. "How many fathers, mothers, grandparents, daughters, and sons would be alive right now if they would have received even a fraction of the care the president received? If the hospital could have admitted my father out of an 'abundance of caution,' would my dad still be here? We all deserve that opportunity, but only Trump had it."
The impact the coronavirus pandemic has had on America's already dysfunctional for-profit healthcare system has repeatedly bolstered arguments for a single-payer system under which millions of Americans would not have lost their insurance after losing their jobs because of the ongoing economic crisis.
As Common Dreams reported over the weekend, the high-quality and publicly-funded healthcare immediately available to the president, first lady, and Republican members of Congress who have tested positive for the coronavirus in recent days once again made the case for Medicare for All, according to advocates and progressive lawmakers.
"There is nothing radical about the wealthiest nation on Earth caring for its people," Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) tweeted late Monday. "Healthcare is a human right. We need to protect the Affordable Care Act from Donald Trump and the Republicans who stand with him and move urgently to pass Medicare for All."
"Medicare for All," added Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), author of the Medicare for All Act of 2019 in the House, "means that the world class medical treatment the president is receiving is available to everyone."