By Amy Anderson and Doug Badger |
FOX Business June 10, 2020 |
The health care sector is in recession. Hospitals, physician and dental practices and clinical laboratories are hemorrhaging money and furloughing staff. Some are on the brink of bankruptcy.
While the world is calling health workers “heroes,” many are losing their jobs. In April, the sector shed 1.4 million jobs. No sector of the medical industry has gone untouched. Clinical laboratories (essential for processing tests for COVID-19) and nursing homes (where 40-50 percent of COVID-19 deaths have occurred) also have seen reductions. Although some of these jobs have since been recovered, hospitals and nursing homes continued to furlough critical health care workers during May.
Hospital executives spent precious health care dollars preparing for a surge of patients from COVID-19 that, thankfully, never materialized in most places. But the cost of preparing for the pandemic and the loss of revenue from shutting down non-emergent care has created an extraordinary challenge that places the health and lives of Americans at risk.
Millions of Americans have foregone surgeries, cancer treatments, and life-saving screenings. Those well-intentioned decisions, meant to slow down the virus and save lives, have had devastating consequences—deadly for some and life-changing for others. It may be years before we fully understand the long-term health consequences of these policy decisions.
Badger and Anderson offer policy recommendations beginning with withdrawing sweeping bans on non-emergent care and targeting public messaging emphasizing safety and necessity of preventive care and treatment, especially for those with chronic diseases.