A new Lancet Commission report has found out that around 40% of the United State’s coronavirus deaths could have been prevented if the country’s average death rate, in general, lie on the same level as other first-world nations
The commission blamed former President Donald Trump and his “inept and insufficient” action towards tackling COVID-19 for the country’s high coronavirus deaths. However, according to the report, the poor health of Americans has much deeper roots.
Co-chairs of the Lancet Commission, Dr. Steffie Woolhandler, and Dr. David Himmelstein, said the commission’s report emphasized factors that sped up the country’s disparities, including policies in the health, economic, and social sectors.
According to the report, the life expectancy of people in the U.S. has started falling behind other developed countries around 40 years ago. It also stated that if the 2018 mortality rate in the U.S. matched those of other industrialized nations, such as the Group of Seven countries, 461,000 fewer people in the country would have died.
Preventable Coronavirus Deaths Brought About By Inequalities
Himmelstein said that to remedy, decreasing “the huge and widening inequalities” that have surfaced in the country should be done.
The coronavirus pandemic has excessively affected people of color. African Americans have 50% higher death rates compared to white people. Consequently, coronavirus deaths among people of color, in general, have been seen to be around 1.2 to 3.6 times higher than that of white people. As per the report, the disparities were more notably high among middle-aged Americans. It added that this may be due to crowded living conditions. Jobs that would require people to break social distancing rules might be a factor as well.
Woolhandler added that public health directives could have helped in saving lives. However, she said the former president was not able to create a nationwide response. Instead, he made the states decide on this crucial matter.
The report also said that the former president weakening the Affordable Care Act added to the disparity the U.S. is experiencing. Because of Trump’s decision, 2.3 more Americans have become uninsured, This count still does not include citizens who lost employer-provided coverage during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Trump wasn’t the only one the report blamed, however. It also took aim at both Republicans and Democrats. It noted that former President Ronald Reagan’s administration favored “neoliberal policies” which caused social programs to erode. Additionally, the report criticized former President Bill Clinton’s support for making welfare eligibility more stringent. As per the report, Clinton also signed a bill that has resulted in mass incarceration. It largely affected Latinos and African American men in a negative way.
Lancet Commission’s Suggestions
With these, the commission gave a long list of suggestions of executive and legislative actions that could help reverse this health trend. One of these suggestions was a single-payer health system, not unline Medicare for All. Sen. Bernie Sanders advocated the measure while he campaigned for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination.
According to the commission, a single-payer health system can help save $636 billion on medical and administrative costs. It did not say how much such a system would cost. Although, it pointed to a study that shows 20 to 22 models that predicted total health spending would become lower under such a system
Regarding this, Woolhandler noted that 30 million people in the country do not have insurance. “We’re still in a very deep hole,” she said. She also added that tens of millions of people in the country are underinsured.
The commission’s suggestions also include progressives ideals like the Green New Deal. It also includes reform on the criminal justice system, rescinding the tax cuts put in place by Trump, and focusing more spending on social programs.