THE DISEASE PRESIDENT
Since taking office in 2017, Donald Trump has repeatedly insisted he’s on the verge of replacing the extremely popular Affordable Care Act with “something so much better.” Usually, he claims the timetable for unveiling his healthcare plan is “about two weeks.”
Last month Trump was at it again. “We’re signing a health-care plan within two weeks, a full and complete health-care plan,” he exclaimed on Fox News.
Since then, an additional 20,000 Americans have died from coronavirus, bringing the total to 160,000-plus and counting. To virtually no one’s surprise, Trump has yet to introduce his new healthcare plan.
So naturally Trump counselor Kellyanne Conway is calling her boss the “Healthcare President.”
Next, she’ll start bragging about “Doc” Trump’s tremendous triage work at the Bowling Green Massacre and all the lives he saved there…
If you find such alternative facts harder to swallow than a massive stockpile of hydroxychloroquine pills, how about a very strong dose of reality? In less than six months, U.S. coronavirus deaths have surpassed combined U.S. battle deaths from World War I, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Far from the “Healthcare President,” Donald Trump has earned the title of the “Disease President.” His complete and ongoing failure to even mitigate, much less prevent, the worst impacts of coronavirus is now a defining feature of his time in office.
And, it turns out, the culmination of his multi-year commitment to indifference and neglect.
In 2017, the Disease President began removing staffers at the CDC’s office in China.
In 2018, the Disease President disbanded the Global Health Security and Biodefense unit that had been established by the Obama Administration to specifically focus on pandemic preparedness, folding some of its personnel into other units within the National Security Council and eliminating others altogether.
In 2020, the Disease President spent the first few months of the coronavirus outbreak by repeatedly lying that it was “very much under control.” Astoundingly, after first claiming that he’d stop the spread at “15 people,” then watching deaths skyrocket past every concessionary death-count estimate he made along the way, he still insists he’s got the virus “under control.”
When the Disease President should have been focused on equipping health workers and hospitals with personal protective equipment and testing kits, he prioritized wealthcare over healthcare.
When the Disease President predicted that COVID-19 would miraculously disappear by April, without requiring a unified, strategic, and sustained intervention, it spread from a handful of major hotspots to every state in the nation.
Instead of emphasizing the value of social-distancing and masks, the Disease President actively encouraged citizens to defy shelter-in-place orders, inspiring some of his followers to take up arms against democratically elected leaders. The Disease President deliberately undermined his Administration’s medical experts. The Disease President prematurely pushed to re-open restaurants, churches, and sports arenas. The Disease President even threatened to withhold funding from any K-12 school that did not comply with his demands to re-open.
The Disease President claimed he was in charge of everything, with total authority, but also said that states in need of medical equipment and supplies were on their own. When America needed consistent, coherent leadership to catalyze a nationwide unified response, the Disease President gave us discord, disinformation, and advice about one-minute disinfectant injections.
Now, even Trump ally Dr. Deborah Birx acknowledges that America has entered a “new phase” of the outbreak where community spread is happening throughout the country precisely because people are not social-distancing or wearing masks.
In large part because of the Disease President’s non-existent leadership and inconsistent messaging, America is once again suffering more than 1000 coronavirus deaths a day. Thousands of businesses continue to close their doors forever.
Even as scientists around the world make fast progress on a potential coronavirus vaccine, there is growing concern that vaccines alone won’t end the pandemic. Many experts believe it is likely to remain a significant global health threat for years to come.
What happens to the tens of millions of people who have lost their jobs, and thus their employer-based health insurance, in this scenario? Throughout his term in office, the Disease President has tried to make it harder and more expensive for Americans to obtain healthcare through the Affordable Care Act. Uninsured rates have gone up during the Trump Administration. Florida and Texas, which have the second and third highest number of coronavirus cases in the U.S., also have some of the highest uninsured rates in the nation.
And yet even in the face of this pandemic, the Disease President still dreams of eliminating the Affordable Care Act altogether.
Amidst the tragedy and economic uncertainty that coronavirus will continue to inflict for the foreseeable future, access to healthcare is crucial.
That’s the reason Kellyanne Conway has started calling the Disease President the “Healthcare President.”
It’s why the Disease President himself has once again started to talk about the great new healthcare plan he’s going to unveil two weeks from now. And why, two months from now, he’ll no doubt be claiming his plan is so good he can’t reveal it until after the election.
But instead of paying any mind to the Disease President’s reality TV-style cliffhangers, let’s just look at reality here.
When Barack Obama and Joe Biden occupied the White House, they passed historic legislation that helped more than 20 million Americans obtain healthcare coverage. They made it impossible for the insurance industry to deny coverage to individuals over pre-existing conditions.
With the Disease President in charge, doctors, nurses, and other medical personnel die because even our hospitals lack adequate supplies of masks and hand sanitizer. Medical tests are positioned as a part of the problem rather than part of the cure. The White House suppresses previously accessible public health data in its own private database, in a desperate effort to hide the truth.
Over the next three months, the Disease President will try to shift the blame for America’s COVID-19 losses to China, state governors, the previous Administration — anyone else but him, essentially — despite the fact that he’s the one in the White House, calling the shots, and repeatedly denying the realities on the ground.
What this means, of course, is that, come November, we are faced with a very clear choice.
We can choose the Disease President again, and get more death, more layoffs, more lies, more excuses, more discord, more division. Or we can choose Joe Biden and start to recover, physically and economically, as one unified nation, from coronavirus and the Disease President himself.