COVID-19 highlighted the underlying problems of health policy in the country
The United States is a country of laws, but when facing its greatest health crisis with the pandemic of coronavirus These failed, as did the federal, state and local governments, due to obstacles in the chain of care to prevent infections and the number of deaths that already exceeds 173,000 victims, impacting more the Hispanic and African-American communities.
This was concluded by the interdisciplinary study of six renowned institutions, “Evaluation of legal responses to COVID-19”, conducted by 50 of the most important legal experts, which arises in the midst of the lack of a new economic stimulus package to face the economic crisis and stop the contagion of COVID-19, which is approaching six million in the country.
“The investigation details the widespread failure of the country’s leadership in planning and executing a cohesive national response, and how the crisis exposed weaknesses in the country’s public health and healthcare systems.”, point out the report.
There were three major problems that also contributed to intensifying the economic crisis in the country:
1. Legal authority.- Experts indicate that broad legal authority has not been adequately utilized, calling it “a massive failure” of executive leadership and implementation at the federal, state and local levels.
2. Budget cuts.- The report indicates that although the authorities pretended to be prepared for a possible health crisis, the severe budget cuts to public health, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to state and local health departments, affected the effective response. This coupled with the fact that “political interference” impaired immediate attention.
3. Disparities.- They emphasize that the laws failed to avoid “racial and economic disparities,” which showed a marked impact on certain ethnic and racial groups, even intensifying the socioeconomic and health situation that these communities had before the pandemic.
“The United States’ response to the pandemic has been a total failure“, I consider Wendy E. Parmet, Professor of Law at the University of Matthews and Professor of Public Policy and Urban Affairs at Northeastern University. “When we compare the results of the United States with those of the rest of the world, we see that an empty government, which politicized the allocation of resources and suppressed science, has done a disservice to the American people.”
The authors offer more than 100 recommendations, including current adjustments and long-term plans, to avoid the same bottlenecks at different levels of government.
“While peer countries have managed to get COVID-19 under control, the United States still faces an increase in cases and deaths, even after the American people have made extraordinary sacrifices to flatten the curve,” he said. Donna E. Levin, director of the Public Health Law Network. “This is due, in large part, to the failure to assemble a unified response.”
He added that scientifically informed guidance, coordination, education, standards, and funding for states and localities are essential for response, as well as long-term recovery, especially in the communities that need it most, somewhat. in what coincided Sarah de Guia, CEO of ChangeLab Solutions.
“This virus is a threat to everyone, but it has not affected everyone equally”, he expressed. “COVID-19 has exposed too many empty promises about justice and equality in the law.”
The expert stressed that the law treats “essential workers” as expendable, although they are highlighted as essential in emergencies of this type.
“Unequal protections and access to health care, especially among low-income communities and people of colorIt is an important national weakness that must be urgently addressed so … better use of legal tools can help change things in the short term, ”he said.
A plan to improve
Some of the suggestions are: base legal measures on the science; collect and evaluate accurate data; improve and expand access to medical attention; increase and maintain funds for emergency preparedness public health; reforming the public health and healthcare system so that physicians can respond more effectively, as well as addressing the affordability and availability of broadband service.
Scott Burris, Professor and director of the Center for Public Health at Temple University Beasley School of Law, warned that the course must be changed, as the pandemic showed that the plans of the last 20 years simply failed.
“Pandemic preparedness in the past two decades has focused too much on plans and laws on paper, ignored the devastating effects of budget cuts, and failed to avoid political interference in the operational readiness of our local, state, and national health agencies. ”, He indicated. “In too many key offices, the last person with pandemic expertise had already left and just hadn’t turned off the lights.”
The research was sponsored by the Beaumont Foundation and the American Public Health Association, but the report was produced by the Temple University Center for Public Health Research; Changelab Solutions; Wayne State University Law School; The Network for Public Health Law; Center for Health Policy & Law, Northeastern University and Hall Center for Law and Heal, Indiana University.