By KIM BELLARD
In a week where we’ve seen the bungled Afghan withdrawal, had Texas show us its contempt for all sorts of rights, watched wildfires ravage the west and Ida wreak havoc on a third of the country, and, of course, witnessed COVID-19 continue its resurgence, I managed to find an article that depressed me further. Thank you, Aaron Carroll.
Dr. Carroll – pediatrician, long-time contributor to The New York Times, and now Chief Health Officer of I.U. Health — wrote a startling piece in The Atlantic: We’ve Never Protected the Vulnerable. He looks at the resistance to public health measures like masking and wonders: why is anyone surprised?
Some of his pithier observations:
“Much of the public is refusing. That’s not new, though. In America, it’s always been like this.”“COVID-19 has exposed these gaps in our public solidarity, not caused them.”“America has never cared enough. People just didn’t notice before.”
Wow. What was that about Texas again?
Some of Dr. Carroll’s examples include our normally lackadaisical approach to influenza, our failure to recognize the dangers we often pose to immunocompromised people, our paltry family and sick leave policies, and our vast unpaid care economy. He could have just as well pointed to our (purposefully) broken unemployment system or the stubborn resistance to Medicaid expansion in 12 states (Texas again!), but you probably get the point.
Everyone likes to complain about our healthcare system – and with good reason – but it is not an abyss we somehow stumbled into. It’s a hole we’ve dug for ourselves, over time. We may not like our healthcare system but it is the system we’ve created, or, perhaps, allowed.
Health insurance was once largely community-rated, spreading the risk equally across everyone to protect the burden on the sickest, until some insurers (and some groups) figured out that premiums could