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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 3/13/20

Free Tests, Free Vaccines: Remove the Wealth Barriers to Fighting COVID-19

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From The Nation

We can't address a pandemic without eliminating economic hurdles to public health.

Coronavirus Response Act includes paid sick leave, free testing
Coronavirus Response Act includes paid sick leave, free testing
(Image by YouTube, Channel: CNBC Television)
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Former Vice President Hubert Humphrey reminded us long ago that "the moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; and those who are in the shadows of life, the sick, the needy and the handicapped.

It is also the practical test -- especially during a pandemic such as the one that the United States is now experiencing.

If we commit to provide the very best care and support for those who are most vulnerable, those who are most threatened physically and economically by the coronavirus outbreak, threads of human decency and common sense intersect to the benefit of the whole of society. That means that our responses to the coronavirus must be universal in every sense. If care is too costly, if workers feel pressured to show up for jobs when they feel ill, then this country is not responding realistically or responsibly to the crisis.

That's why Representative Ayanna Pressley argues, "Coronavirus testing must be made free to the public if we are going to understand the scope of this crisis. Anything less will undermine America's effort to protect our communities and save lives."

And that's why Representative Pramila Jayapal has written to Vice President Mike Pence to argue, "Coronavirus impacts all of us. Stopping immigrants from seeing the doctor is harmful and downright dangerous during a public health emergency. Putting up barriers to care for some is a public health risk for all. The Trump Administration must immediately suspend its wealth test."

That's a reference to the Trump administration's scheming to block immigrants who might at some point make use of federal safety-net benefits to get by. But the fact is that there are millions of people in the US who cannot afford needed health care and millions more who cannot take a day off work without risking their livelihoods.

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