We need to grow up. And the media, galloping to corral ratings, viewership and thus more advertising dollars, are salivating over every real, imagined or manufactured detail of the "Ebola Crisis" with a full court of experts, gadgetry, graphics and somber doomsday pundits all adding to the confusing mix.
Nobody wants to step back and take a serious, objective adult look at the situation. As of now Republicans are howling to ban air travel from West Africa, shut the borders, and identify large quarantine stations for this pending national epidemic. Leading this charge are the usual suspects -- Donald Trump, Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh -- all of whom would find cause to gripe and complain if President Obama were to find the cure for all cancers.
Stoked by the incessant "breaking news" from network television and their band of ratings-savvy anchors and reporters, a now completely confused and anxious population is running scared. Ebola phobia is now at every corner, school, train, airplane and store in Texas, California and any place that a nurse or individual who might have come within 100 years of an Ebola patient. Or worse yet visited West Africa where the disease is killing people in a few cluster, land-locked states.
And then, when you look at where the first infection manifested itself in the United States and you dig away the muck and political mud-slinging, the FACTS expose the true healthcare situation in Texas. You see, lost in the spin, innuendos and attempts to blame the dead victim of Ebola is the fact that Texas's healthcare system is for the privileged. It is also a broken, incompetent system. The fact is that Black and poor Texans and immigrants are treated to sub-standard healthcare. That's why they sent Eric Duncan home when the turned up at the emergency room seeking care -- he did not have health insurance.
"Texas has the highest rate of uninsured in the nation. ... And there are more uninsured children in Texas than in any other state," fomer U.S. Health Secretary Kathrine Sebelius wrote in a Dec. 15, 2013, in an opinion piece for the Dallas Morning News.
In the piece, which later appeared in the Dec. 18, 2013, Austin American-Statesman, Sebelius said Texas could have helped many immediately by accepting the Affordable Care Act's offer of federal dollars to help pay for expanding Medicaid. The fact-checking website www.Polifact.com rated as "True" a claim from President Barack Obama that ONE MILLION Texans could have gotten insuranced right away if the state had agreed to the expansion. Eric Duncan could have been on of them. Today, Texas has the highest rate of uninsured residents overall, about a quarter of its population, and has the most uninsured children.
Swell. Unbelievable in a 21st century era and in a state that prides itself for innovation and forward looking.The real truth is that in Texas, Gov. Rick Perry and Republican legislators have strongly opposed the Medicaid expansion and refused to establish a state-run exchange, the smoothest way to coordinate state and federal programs and provide subsidies to middle-income residents. They contend that the state has other ways to deal with the uninsured, but there's little reason to believe them given the state's long history of failing to help and persistent complaints from medical and patient advocacy groups. [New York Times Editorial published: September 4, 2013 under caption "Uninsured in Texas and Florida"].
On Friday, Sept. 25, 2014, Thomas Eric Duncan went to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas. He had a high fever and stomach pains. He told the nurse he had recently been to Liberia. But he was a Black man, and an immigrant with no health insurance and no means to pay for treatment. So, in a state with two levels of healthcare -- one white and privileged, the other Black, Hispanic and poor - within hours Duncan was released with some antibiotics and Tylenol.
Duncan was a member of "the others" -- that large, faceless segregated group that Republican Governors like Texas's own Rick Perry like to pretend do not exist. The Hospital in Texas was under absolutely no obligation to care for Eric Duncan because he belonged to that "second group of others." Those trapped in a politically created limbo, outcasts in a state notorious for its mistreatment of Black people and a record of callous disregard for the lives of non-white peoples.
The slavish, whorish media will not tell Eric Duncan's true story because if they did it would expose the utter failure of a state political apparatus that has been warned since 2006 that its healthcare system was in utter shambles. Eric Duncan did nothing wrong; the only thing is that he was the wrong color. And he could not get health insurance because he lived and died in a state that hates the nation's first Black president.
He died in a state that refused to accept help to expand public health insurance even when it has millions of children on its uninsured lists. To score cheap political points Texas Governor Perry, who could not even remember which federal agencies that he would abolish if he was elected president of the United States, refused to entertain his state's involvement in the now successful Affordable Care Act (ACA).
But there's another story here and nagging questions that beg honest answers. The mainstream media is not asking them nor are they concerned with why Eric Duncan died beyond the fact that he did travel to Liberia, did contract the Ebola disease there and the did die in the United States. In the hospital's own admission Eric Duncan turned up at its emergency room with a temperature of 103 degrees accompanied by acute stomach pains that drove him to the nearest hospital. He also said that he'd just come from Liberia.
So why was he turned away besides the fact that he had no health insurance and could not pay for care? If emergency hospital staff felt that his condition was not cause for concern then they give new meaning to the word incompetent. If they turned him away because he was Black then they are guilty of racism and callous disregard for the lives of other Texans when all of the Ebola warning signals where like a red flag on Duncan's head.
At best the hospital exercised unbelievably poor judgment. It's that judgment -- not Eric Duncan's fault -- that is directly responsible for the disease not being contained and infecting two nurses. Its their implementing one of the healthcare protocols, the end result of the political myopia suffered by Governor Perry on down, that is comfortable with doing the very barest minimum for an uninsured patient, that allowed Eric Duncan to be sent home and ultimately to die.