Call it Coronacare for All, a simple guarantee that anyone who develops symptoms of COVID-19 can be tested and quarantined, if needed, at no cost.
The idea is that we are all on a cruise ship called Earth and our well-being depends on immediately identifying and isolating those who are infected.
We are already partway there, thanks to provisions of Obamacare, which Attorney General William Barr and a cartel of Republican governors and attorneys general are seeking to scuttle.
Barr does so even as Vice President Mike Pence cites one of Obamacare’s central provisions in assuring those who are insured that the coronavirus test will be covered.
“HHS [Health and Human Services] has already denominated a test for the coronavirus to be an essential health benefit, which ensures that it will be covered by people’s private health insurance. It will be covered by Medicare and Medicaid,” Pence told a press conference last week as he stood flanked by executives from diagnostic labs.
Pence did not say that “essential health benefit” is a term right out of the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare. Pence himself called for its repeal in his first week in office, though he subsequently allowed that maybe some of it was worth saving. Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions said the same and refrained from joining the Republican cartel’s efforts in the courts to void Obamacare and leave nothing its place.
When Barr became the new attorney general, everybody was paying too much attention to his efforts regarding the Mueller Report to notice when he ordered the Justice Department to join the total-repeal forces when the Obamacare case comes before the Supreme Court, most likely after the election.
In the meantime, Obamacare will also likely enable the insured to receive a coronavirus vaccine should one become available since the insured presently can just walk into a pharmacy and get a flu shot at no charge.
But even under Obamacare, the tens of millions of underinsured Americans with high deductibles are liable to be left with onerous hospital bills should they test positive. And those with high deductibles are often those who can least afford to pay.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York announced on Monday that New York State will require insurance companies to cover the cost not only of coronavirus testing, but also any medical bills associated with the initial costs of a doctor, clinic, or emergency room, as long as they are in-network.
“Containing this virus depends on us having the facts about who has it — and these measures will break down any barriers that could prevent New Yorkers from getting tested,” Cuomo said in a statement.
Cuomo received a personal reminder of the urgency when Rick Cotton, the man he put in charge of the New York City area’s airports and appointed to his coronavirus task force, tested positive. Cotton is 75, an age when coronavirus is a particular cause for worry.
Even if Cuomo’s guarantee was extended across the country, there would still be the problem of the 27.5 million Americans who are not insured at all. There are also maybe 8 million undocumented immigrants whose plight is further guaranteed by the worry they risk coming to the attention of ICE and being deported.
Anyone who is infected and fails to seek a test—out of whatever concern—poses a risk for everyone.
Imagine if the coronavirus tests that a military helicopter lowered to the Grand Princess off the coast of California were taken only by those who either had insurance or the means to pay for them.
And imagine if there were untested passengers with symptoms aboard as it sailed in under the Golden Gate Bridge on Monday.
On the cruise ship Grand Princess or on the cruise ship Earth, Coronacare for All!
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