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How do you get caught flat-footed in a pandemic? By running health care like a business | READER COMMENTARY

Dr. Richard Bruno, site medical director at Chase Brexton Health Care in Mt. Vernon, wears a colorful cloth mask over his N95 respirator. His wife, Mary Bruno, is making them for him and members of his staff to boost morale. Bruno is in the door way of one of the COVIC-19 testing tents near the entrance to the building. This tent, one of several set up by IronMark, sits in front of an old teller's cage from the building's former owner, Monumental Life Insurance Company. March 27, 2020.
Dr. Richard Bruno, site medical director at Chase Brexton Health Care in Mt. Vernon, wears a colorful cloth mask over his N95 respirator. His wife, Mary Bruno, is making them for him and members of his staff to boost morale. Bruno is in the door way of one of the COVIC-19 testing tents near the entrance to the building. This tent, one of several set up by IronMark, sits in front of an old teller's cage from the building's former owner, Monumental Life Insurance Company. March 27, 2020. (Kim Hairston/Baltimore Sun)

With President Donald Trump and the nation’s governors squabbling about who has primary responsibility for assuring adequate health care supplies (“Trump limits availability of supply reserve,” April 4), it’s clear that the coronavirus pandemic is exposing all the flaws of our existing health care system, from exorbitant costs to inadequate coverage for many Americans.

In the face of this unprecedented calamity, Sen. Bernie Sanders’ Medicare for All proposal is a no-brainer.

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The best example I can offer came in the answer to a talk-show question that asked why hospitals were not adequately supplied with lifesaving equipment that would protect both patients and their health care providers. The answer was striking in its simplicity: In our system, hospitals are run like a business. Period.

Simply, businesses do not pile up excess inventory which may never be needed. That would interfere with efficiency and reduce profit..

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This mindless approach to health care is exacerbated by doctors, health insurers and drug manufacturers who also run their bailiwicks as businesses and by lawyers who stand ever-ready to make a buck on the next medical mistake. They are all players who must play by the rules of a profit-driven system.

Medicare for All would not be run as a business. Of course, it would require business-like efficiencies and strict oversight. But its primary goal would be public service, not profit. That’s how a caring nation is supposed to take care of its people.

Yes, it would require higher taxes. But as Senator Sanders has gone hoarse trying to explain, it would eliminate monthly premiums, annual deductibles, surprise billing, and employer-based health insurance which varies in quality and is easily lost when employees lose their jobs and covers only a portion of the American people. It would also result in a dramatic reduction in administrative costs. And most of all, it would cover every American from cradle to grave.

Call it socialism if you must, but be clear that it would be a socialism fully compatible with the provisions of the U.S. Constitution, just like Social Security and Medicare. And it would be a system that doesn’t have to beg, borrow and steal to ensure that essential supplies are readily available in the event of a public health crisis.

Bernie Sanders will not likely be our next president, but his legacy will be assured when some future president signs the Bernie Sanders Medicare for All bill into law.

It can’t happen soon enough.

Howard Bluth, Baltimore

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