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Bad choices will make things worse

By Steve Wall • Guest Columnist | There are over 200 cases of coronavirus that have appeared in Italy, with three deaths as of Feb. 21. It’s possible patient one had symptoms for five days before seeking help. 

Currently, there are over 500,000 people in North Carolina who have no medical insurance, and several thousand are here in the mountains. Careful health surveys by the Kaiser Family Foundation show that people with no medical insurance delay seeing a medical provider for financial reasons. Is it inconceivable that someone with a highly contagious disease could remain under the radar, and without knowing it, spread the infection, because a visit to the ER and lab test could cost them $300 or more out of pocket.

If so,  why do Republican politicians like Sen. Tom Tillis, R-N.C., and state Sen. Jim Davis, R-Franklin, sabotage the expansion of Medicaid in North Carolina that would help protect public health? Why does President Trump continue to attack the Affordable Care Act that has given over 20 million people access to care? The reason is as obvious as it is outrageous — because these  programs to safeguard our nation’s health have President Obama’s name attached to them. And these Democratic initiated programs must be socialist or communist, as state House candidate Mike Clampitt from Bryson City recently declared, conveniently forgetting that Medicare and Social Security were also called socialist or even communist when they were first proposed by Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson.

As late as 1954, paralytic polio claimed 50,000 victims every year in the U.S. As late as 1999, measles killed 2 million children worldwide. These plagues have stopped because of vaccine development and improved medical access. About 23 million children have been spared death from measles worldwide since 1960.

In 1918, we didn’t have the kind of medical research and technology that developed in the second half of the 20th century. No one really knows how many people died from the Spanish Flu, but estimates range from 30 to 40 million worldwide. And the oceans didn’t protect the U.S., where out of  population of 105 million approximately 400,000 to 500,000 died, including my wife’s great-grandfather.

This is  not fake news, Mr. President. Xi Jinping, president of China, is not doing “A great job …  totally under control ….” as you foolishly stated before having any real intelligence (perhaps from one of the 17 intelligence agencies you have stated you don’t trust as much as you trust Vladimir Putin).

So while we are talking about this, ask yourself why Mr. Trump is calling for a $5 billion cut in the budget for the National Institute of Health. I think I know why — because our president encouraged by his obedient, irresponsible followers like Sen. Tillis  and Rep. Mark Meadows and thinks he knows more than anyone, whether it’s about Syria (sorry Kurds, you’re on your own, I know more than the generals), vaccines (they cause autism, bad doctors!), climate (he knows its all a Chinese trick), etc., etc.

I’m glad the stock market is up and job creation in the past 36 months is almost as good as it was in the last 36 months of the Obama administration. I’m glad there will never be another recession, and that Trump’s federal deficit that’s now over a trillion dollars — for the first time in our history — won’t ever come back to bite us. Because the really good news, in spite of any worries about epidemics or economics or our standing in the world with no allies is what Trump said to his wealthy campaign contributors during a dinner at Mar-a-Lago after the 2017 passage of the budget busting tax give away: “I just made you all a lot richer.” See you in November.

(Steve Wall is a retired pediatrician who spent his career in Haywood County.)

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