A Massive Government Failure That Was Avoidable
While being confined to home the past several weeks except for an almost daily walk in the park and some visits to the grocery store, keeping proper social distancing, I have had plenty of time to read many columns and articles from different sources. One item that has become very clear during this coronavirus pandemic is that fact based, decisive and coordinated leadership from our government, especially our elected officials, is essential. This is not the time for boasting, campaigning or blaming others.
At the time of this writing, the United States leads the world in the number of confirmed cases of COVID 19 as well as the number of deaths attributed to the disease associated with the coronavirus. Every one of those deaths has been within the past two months since the first confirmed death from COVID 19 was reported on February 29.
At the current pace, and likely when you are reading this column, the total of confirmed deaths from this pandemic in the United States will exceed the total number of Americans killed in the Vietnam War. Experts also believe that both the number of confirmed cases as well as deaths from this pandemic in the United States has been under reported, so the actual numbers might be considerably higher.
There were plenty of warnings that a potential pandemic was heading our way. As early as last December, the World Health Organization had issued a warning of a possible pandemic originating in China. Four years ago, the United States was perhaps the most prepared nation in the world for a pandemic. Our country had assembled a pandemic response team and had a plan in place to deal with a pandemic in our country. That was part of the National Security Council and the Centers for Disease Control. In addition, the CDC in Atlanta had a staff of competent physicians and scientists with expertise in dealing with possible pandemics.
Their reaction in dealing with the Ebola outbreak in west Africa was instrumental in keeping that epidemic confined to a few nations in west Africa. When a case of Ebola came to the United States, it was identified and quickly isolated. The only other people infected were some nurses treating the patient. They were identified and treated successfully. No others became infected and this disease remained confined in west Africa. Granted, Ebola was not as contagious as COVID 19, but it was much more deadly.
Since 2017, that pandemic response team has been disbanded and many physicians and scientists have left the CDC due to hostility from the executive branch of the government. That loss of expertise as well as the pandemic response team, I believe has only exacerbated this pandemic.
But there is no excusing the lack of coordination and direction from the federal government and the President. There is no coherent message from the President on this pandemic. First, he says that he has the ultimate authority. Then the next day he says that the state governors are on their own as far as obtaining much needed supplies to treat COVID patients.
We saw it first a few months ago in Italy with overcrowded hospitals and people dying right and left in hallways; of doctors and nurses working round the clock with inadequate supplies and equipment. Americans believed “that can’t happen here, after all the United States has the best health care system in the world”.
But it did happen here. We saw the images from New York City with bodies being stored in makeshift morgues of truck trailers in parking lots and mass burials in unmarked graves. We saw doctors and nurses getting sick and even dying.
Then there is the President saying that he takes no responsibility for any of this.
I remember from history where President Harry Truman once had a plaque on his desk saying, “The Buck Stops Here”. That meant that he took full responsibility for anything that was under his authority.
Nothing epitomizes the failure of the current President more than his saying that he takes no responsibility in the matter of the coronavirus pandemic in the United States. Harry Truman also had a famous expression “if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen”. The current President never should have entered the kitchen at all if he wasn’t willing to accept responsibility for the results. He should also realize that with great power comes great responsibility.
Lee has been working with Medicare, Medicaid and private health insurance since he began working at the Erie County Welfare Department in January 1973 where a major part of his job was determining eligibility for Medicaid. He went into the private insurance business in 1977 with Prudential Insurance Company and within a short time had become one of the company’s top sales agents. In 1982, he was promoted into management where he managed two field offices and as many as thirteen sales agents. After leaving Prudential in 1986, Lee decided to become more focused on health insurance and employee benefits. He has advised many local employers on how to have a more cost effective employee benefit program as well as conducted employee benefit meetings and enrollments for many area employers. The companies Lee has worked with ranged from small “mom and pop” businesses to local operations of large national companies. Lee received his B.S. degree from Kent State University where he has been active in the local alumni association. He has completed seven of the ten courses toward the Certified Employee Benefit Specialist designation. He has taught courses in employee benefits and insurance at Cleveland State University and local community colleges. In addition, Lee is an experienced and accomplished public speaker. He has been a member of Toastmasters International where he achieved the designation of “Able Toastmaster – Silver” in 1994. He has also served as a club president, Area Governor and District Public Relations Officer in Toastmasters as well as winning local speech contests. Lee has also been a member of the Greater Cleveland Growth Association’s Speaker’s Bureau where he was designated as one of the “official spokespeople for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame” prior to the hall’s opening in 1995. He has given talks and presentations before many audiences including civic organizations, AARP chapters and many other community groups. With the implementation of the Medicare Modernization Act (Medicare drug bill) in 2006, Lee has shifted his focus to Medicare and helping Medicare beneficiaries navigate the often confusing array of choices and plans available. As an independent representative, Lee is not bound to any one specific company or plan, but he can offer a plan that suits an individual person’s needs and budget. In addition, Lee is well versed in the requirements and availability of various programs for assistance with Medicare part D as well as Medicaid. While he cannot make one eligible, he can assist in the process and steer one to where they may be able to receive assistance.