Commentary, COVID-19

Trump’s hospital bill highlights the cruelty in the Right’s prescription for healthcare and the economy

The New York Times reported yesterday that the cost of President Donald Trump’s three-day, taxpayer-covered hospital stay for treatment of his COVID-19 infection was upwards of $100,000. And while most Americans wouldn’t face the expense of a fancy helicopter ride and a few other special benefits that Trump enjoyed, that doesn’t mean the bill of the average COVID patient isn’t prohibitively expensive.

This is from the same article:

Health economists are only starting to understand the full costs of coronavirus treatment, just as scientists are mapping out how the disease works and spreads. They do have some early estimates: The median charge for a coronavirus hospitalization for a patient over 60 is $61,912, according to a claims database, FAIR Health.

A $60,000 bill might not sound like much to Trump and his fellow one-percenters, but it’s obviously something that would take most Americans decades to pay off — if they were lucky.

But, of course, that’s the plan favored by Trump, Senators Thom Tillis and Richard Burr, state legislative leaders Phil Berger and Tim Moore, and their apologists in an array of local right-wing think tanks when it comes to millions of Americans (more than 500,000 of them in North Carolina) trapped in the Medicaid coverage gap.

Indeed, that’s their plan for millions of Americans lucky enough to currently enjoy protections of the Affordable Care Act. As the Times article also reported:

The financial consequences of a coronavirus hospitalization could be long-lasting, if a new Supreme Court challenge to the Affordable Care Act is successful. That case argues that all of Obamacare is unconstitutional, including the health law’s protections for pre-existing conditions. The administration filed a brief in June supporting the challenge.

The Supreme Court hears that case on Nov. 10. If the challenge succeeds, Covid-19 could join a long list of pre-existing conditions that would leave patients facing higher premiums or denials of coverage. In that case, coronavirus survivors could face a future in which their hospital stays increase their health costs for years to come.

It’s enough to make you wonder whether it hasn’t been the political right’s plan all along to use the pandemic as a tool — a tool to toughen Americans up for the decades of austerity and deprivation that would inevitably result from the dog-eat-dog, survival-of-the-fittest, market fundamentalist economy they’ve been seeking (and still hope) to impose.

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