A Bleak Picture: Responding to the COVID-19 Pandemic Under Medicare For All

After Bernie Sanders dropped out of the presidential election, those who shared his dreams of socialized health care were able to find relief in Joe Biden’s so-called public “option,” which, as we have repeatedly warned, is simply a longer-term tactic to realize Medicare-for-All. In other words, the threat of socialized medicine is still very much with us, and powerful advocates on the left continue to fight for it. Let’s imagine, then, what would happen if they got what they want.

Let’s travel back in time to early February, as the coronavirus has just begun its rapid spread through America. In this hypothetical, the government has complete control of our health care system, just as the Bernie bros had always dreamt about. And now, the world is facing a global pandemic.

The first and most crucial step in controlling the spread of a pandemic is to develop a test. It’s what you need in order to begin measuring the extent of the spread of a virus so you can determine the severity of the situation. For this, we don’t even have to use our imagination – this is actually what happened when the government put itself solely in charge of developing and distributing these critical test kits.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention got to work, and soon enough, we had the tests. Weeks later, however, a fatal flaw was exposed: as it turns out, two of the three CDC laboratories in Atlanta that created the test kits violated their own manufacturing standards through sloppy laboratory practices. This sloppiness resulted in the contamination of the nation’s first coronavirus tests. After discovering that the agency had sent ineffective tests to nearly all of the 100 state and local public health labs, it took CDC officials more than a month to resolve the issue, which meant disastrous nationwide delays in testing.  

Former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, a CNBC contributor who sits on the boards of Pfizer and biotech company Illumina, said that even if the CDC had been successful in rolling out this early test, there still wouldn’t have been enough diagnostic testing in the nation. “What needed to happen was someone needed to pick up the phone and call the CEOs of LapCorp and Quest, and the other big labs probably in January,” Gottlieb said, which “would’ve gotten the big labs in the game.”

If, however, we return to our hypothetical, socialized America, the CDC is pretty much all we’ve got left. So, instead of the private industry leveraging their vast and flexible infrastructures and resources used (in real life) to ramp up production, we’d have more bureaucrats telling other bureaucrats to make more tests. And with the government controlling drug prices, incentive to produce new products has long since disappeared and there are fewer and fewer innovators left. In this hypothetical, there are no private entities around to pick up the government’s slack (for instance, the scientists at Stanford Medicine no longer have the resources to develop a test to detect coronavirus antibodies). Testing is delayed even further, and the devastation worsens.

If the government was this incompetent in handling the first step in the fight against COVID-19, what makes the advocates for Medicare for All and public option believe that these bureaucrats are capable of handling our entire health care system? Every health care decision would be put in the hands of politicians and faceless bureaucrats, not doctors, patients, and scientists. The quality of care would deteriorate, and our choices scant. Unfortunately, each morning, millions of patients in socialist countries awaken to find that this socialist utopian healthcare dream is their reality – and far from a dream, it has proven to be a nightmare.

We must not let the same happen to America.