As the Ebola pandemic in west Africa dominates news headlines here in the United States, the question is whether this country can adequately deal with such a public health emergency. Already, there are troubling signs. In a for-profit healthcare system such as ours, the value of actual health care is diminished. Salon Magazine hits the nail on the head:
Our own healthcare infrastructure, despite the best efforts of the Affordable Care Act, is fragmented, privatized, and all too often simply not up to the challenge. It crumbles under our own disasters: in New York after Hurricane Sandy, nurses famously had to carry newborns on respirators down nine flights of stairs to evacuate when NYU Langone hospital flooded, and other nurses went door-to-door to find sick patients in neighborhoods without power or transportation. Hospitals are closing, governors refusing to expand Medicaid, doctors loaded with student debt going into lucrative specialties instead of primary care. If we don’t value healthcare at home, how are we supposed to help provide it abroad?
The Affordable Care Act granted more Americans the ability to buy health insurance, but many are still left out and finding it difficult to get care. That leaves our healthcare infrastructure still vulnerable, precisely because we do not have a uniform system of healthcare access.