On the Wednesday morning edition of Fox News’ America’s Newsroom, Republican consultant Brad Blakeman outlandishly claimed that not only would the coronavirus pandemic demonstrate the success of Republican health care positions in comparison to the Democratic policies, but that President Donald Trump had “tried very hard to change health care for the better.”
In fact, the Republican proposals to repeal the Affordable Care Act in 2017 would not have changed health care “for the better” but would have instead eviscerated protections for preexisting conditions. In addition, the potential impact of the ACA’s repeal would have meant tens of millions more people living without health insurance or paying increased premiums. (As a result of these high stakes, health care was a major issue that drove Democratic victories in 2018.)
Of course, the battle over health care is not finished. The Trump administration has continued seeking to overturn the entire ACA through the court system, as in the case of Texas v. U.S./California v. Texas. The Supreme Court has taken up the case and will hear arguments before the election, though the decision is not expected to come down until after the election.
Meanwhile, Trump has repeatedly lied about protections for preexisting protections, claiming that he has safeguarded them while actually trying to dismantle them.
As for Blakeman’s other point, while the balance of public and private health care delivery is indeed a complicated question with no simple answer, it is also clearly true on the funding side that a pandemic is exactly the sort of situation that demonstrates the need for greater public involvement and coordination. For example, individuals who were kept at hospitals, even just for observation and testing, now face thousands of dollars in medical bills -- exactly the sort of pitfall that could scare many people away from seeking treatment in the first place.
Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL), a longtime conservative critic of public health care, also acknowledged the need for the government to cover costs of coronavirus treatment and testing, saying: “You can look at it as socialized medicine, but in the face of an outbreak, a pandemic, what’s your options?”
And on Tuesday, Trump himself seemingly promised “to look at the uninsured,” but only in vague terms, adding, “This came as a surprise to all of us. … It shows what can happen in life."
It is very important for everyone to have meaningful health coverage. As the president pointed out, the coronavirus outbreak does show “what can happen in life” — that is, when right-wing attacks on public health care face an actual public health crisis.