Thousands dying already. Many more thousands sick; thousands who, in the most-stressed places, can’t even get into packed emergency rooms until their symptoms have them practically near death. Refrigerator trucks parked along city streets to serve as morgues.
Also: 10 million out of work. God knows how many of them are losing their health insurance.
And what does the Trump administration say? Too bad!
The administration decided against reopening the Obamacare exchanges for a special enrollment period so that out-of-work people (and others) could sign up for some kind of health coverage. When Trump had signaled last week he’d create a special enrollment period, AHIP, the main insurance lobby, supported doing it. But this week, the administration said no.
No reason was given. Politico, which broke the story, wasn’t able to get to the bottom of who made the decision: “It wasn’t immediately clear why the Trump administration decided against the special enrollment period. CMS [the arm of the executive branch that runs Obamacare] deferred comment to the White House.”
That’s always a tip-off—when they don’t bother trotting out some bullshit justification that might make even Kellyanne blush. It tells you that there’s only one reason, and it’s the obvious one: An open enrollment during this moment of crisis and mass health coverage dislocation would put millions more Americans on Obamacare, and that’s the last thing they want, especially as they’re still in court trying to get it killed.
Let’s put it even more bluntly: With people getting horribly sick and dying, the Trump administration faced a choice here between helping Americans without regard to politics on the one hand, and on the other thinking strictly about politics. And what did they choose?
What did you expect a man who’s still tweeting about governors being a bunch of whiny complainers to choose?
Eleven states and the District of Columbia have reopened their exchanges. It’s not hard. Of course, all 11 are blue states. What a coincidence. Federal action would have applied to all 38 states that use healthcare.gov. People who lose their job can still go on the exchanges under current law and look for insurance, but an order from the administration would have cut the paperwork and opened Obamacare to more people.
Note my use of the word “people” in the above sentence. People means everyone. I didn’t say Democrats. I didn’t say liberals. I didn’t say, you know, New York City residents, or San Franciscans. And by the way: San Francisco, it seems, is pretty much leading the country in flattening the curve. San Francisco!
No city in America has been on the receiving end of more smug and stupid and proudly ignorant contempt from Winguttia than San Francisco, which is first of all arguably America’s most beautiful city and secondly an amazing, vibrant place. And now, 36 years after Republicans made “San Francisco Democrats” a term of yahoo derision during the Democrats’ 1984 convention, when our nation faces a matter that is literally life and death, it is San Francisco that proves to be our most sane location.
Meanwhile, we’re still waiting for Alabama to tell people to stay at home, as Mississippi’s governor just did so after last week being stuck in uber-stupid denial, and Georgia’s governor did the same after saying in public gee, I just learned that asymptomatic people could transmit the virus, which anyone watching cable news knew weeks ago.
I digress. But I don’t really, because it’s all connected. The willful idiocy of people like Georgia Governor Brian Kemp has the same basic sources of inspiration as Donald Trump’s decision not to reopen Obamacare—denial of empirical fact driven by ideology, an ideology that is the bastard child of a marriage of two core beliefs: one, that business must be free to do whatever it pleases at all times and nothing can get in the way, not even public health; two, that their “religion” dictates that science is voodoo.
Trump may not himself believe either of these things. We have no idea. But we know that he has cynically embraced these two principles because they’re what his base wants. They want to kill Obamacare, he’ll kill Obamacare. And reopening enrollment would mean revitalizing Obamacare.
The politics of a decision like this, in fact of this whole sickening episode, are nearly as appalling as the situation itself. We are in a crisis that, true, Trump and the Republicans didn’t create, but that they clearly and inarguably have made far worse than it could have been. Trump’s own staggering denial of reality and intellectual curiosity; the GOP’s Dear-Leader-Can-Do-No-Wrong totalitarian mindset; the decades-long denial of science and empirical fact; the also decades-long ideological conviction that corporate America’s interests have to be privileged above all other interests under all circumstances. All these factors have combined to take what might have been a vaguely manageable crisis—just imagine, if Trump and the GOP had acted with alacrity in February, we’d be flattening the curve right now and maybe the beginning of the end of this nightmare would be in sight—and turned it into one in which the United States’ response will stand throughout all of history as the single slowest and worst response of all the nations of earth.
And now, on top of all that, they are letting a few more people die to own the libs and their last president. There’s always a spoilage factor. Better than that give people health care. I hope these people are right about a vengeful God, because that’s the God they deserve.