February 19, 2021
One year ago this month, America lost its first life to the coronavirus. Since then, nearly 500,000 Americans have succumbed to the pandemic, and many more have lost their family, their classrooms, and their livelihoods.
No person has been more widely reviled for dooming our response than former President Donald Trump. But a new report published in the British medical journal The Lancet finds that as damaging as were Trump’s actions and his antagonism toward science, they represented merely the extension of a long tradition of harmful policies stretching back decades, which collectively left the United States acutely vulnerable to the pandemic: and resulting in the deaths of 461,000 Americans, in 2018 alone.
This report, published by the Lancet Commission on Public Policy and Health in the Trump Era, offers an unsparing assessment of the many and overlapping failures of the US health care system, as well as of the social mores and policy choices that fueled and have perpetuated those failures over four decades.
Here to discuss their findings, and what they mean for a nation still struggling to move forward, is Dr. Steffie Woolhandler, co-chair of the Lancet Commission and distinguished professor in the CUNY School of Public Health at Hunter College. Dr. Woolhandler is a practicing primary care physician as well as a co-founder and board member of Physicians for a National Health Program, the only national physician organization dedicated to implementing a single-payer health program in the United States — now encompassing more than 20,000 members. She has authored over 150 journal articles, chapters, and books on health policy and continues to guide the national debate as a staunch champion of Medicare for All.
For more about the Lancet Commission, check out:
- its landing page, with links to the full text as well as graphics and associated editorials
- the report itself, at 49 pages an excellent weekend read
Follow Dr. Woolhandler on her Twitter page.
And learn more about Civic Rx at civic-rx.org.