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The shutdown of Clinics Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

Are Governments Repeating the Dust Bowl Mistake?

Originally Published by illumination on Medium


Photo by Lucy Chian on Unsplash

The year 2020 is the time of the Coronavirus pandemic. It has riddled almost everyone’s life in one way or another. While the infectious agent, the COVID-19, is making its advancement against humankind, government administrations are struggling to agree on the best way to fight the pandemic. The public media is making it any easier by meddling into the healthcare affairs and bucketing oil over the burning fire. It seems that most administrations across the world, with the support of the media, are creating what resembles the sand storms as they are merely converging the blow of the wind onto a pile of dust. So, I would like to call it the “COVID-19 Dust Bowl”.

It is utterly pathetic to witness the division of citizen’s attitudes as to what defines the best approach to the Coronavirus pandemic. Some say it is a “hoax,” yet others believe it is a never-ending disease. Amidst all, some are making billions in the name of philanthropy and saving human lives. The question is simple- How should we deal with a natural calamity, or in this case, “man-made natural adversity”?!

For instance- Would you fight the hurricane with arrogance or run for shelter? Or, in the case of a pandemic, should we take a defensive position and exercise our responsibility or follow the costly efforts mandated by the public officials?

Before we can answer that question, we better first guise back into history. Even though the COVID-19 is “novel,” however, there is nothing “Novel” around what we are experiencing with the “COVID-19 Dust Bowl.”

The Dust Bowl Phenomenon of the 1930's- the Flashback

The Dust Bowl refers to an era in the United States history when a severe dust storm took over the “Great planes,” damaging the ecosystem and agronomy of the North American prairies during the 1930s. It was the upshot of the poor farming practices by the European settlers during the severe drought seasons of 1934, 1936, and 1939–1940. The latter farming practice, such as deep plowing, virtually led to the overlooking observation of proper dryland farming methods to prevent aeolian processes or wind erosion.

Acknowledging the challenge of cultivating marginal desert land, the United States government still extended the 160 acres to inexpert settlers under the Homestead Act by granting 640 acres of the Great plains to homesteaders in western Nebraska under the Kinkaid Act (1904). Then the government added another 320 acres elsewhere in the Great Plains under the Enlarged Homestead Act of 1909.

With the insufficient knowledge of the prairies, farmers carried widespread deep plowing of the virgin topsoil of the Great Plains. That caused the displacement of native, deep-rooted grasses that usually trapped soil and moisture during drought and high winds. As a result of liberal plowing practice, the unanchored ground transformed into dust, which at that point winds blew away in massive dust clouds that darkened the air. These choking tides of sand — named “black blizzards” or “black rollers” moved across the country, reaching as far as the East Coast, including New York City and Washington, D.C., often reduced visibility to 3 feet or less.

Even though the federal government hardly admitted to the mistaken Homestead bill, We later realized that the policies negatively affected the country for generations, for reasons that I will discuss later on in this article. Although the legislatures may have had good intentions, their negligence and unidimensional approach to a widespread epoch problem turned out to be pricey.

The Dust Bowl today has frequently used the phenomenon about what transpired in 1930 s upheaval.

Coronavirus Pandemics and the Demise of Independent Clinics

A survey conducted by Kareo reveals Coronavirus Pandemic is adversely Impacting Independent Medical Practices and Their Patients. While at it, the government is encouraging the rapid deployment of Telehealth and the virtual visit by Independent Medical Practices to Offset Steep Drop in Patient Office Visits Due to “Stay at Home” Orders.

Before mid-March, independent healthcare professionals were facing challenges to stay in business due to the increasing government mandates, with 28% of practices only offering telemedicine visits.

Over 9% of the practices closed with the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic, which marked the start of other necessities for closing the clinic door for elective visits. Many more have closed clinic doors since the beginning of the epidemic. While 63% of practices delivered on-site care in March, most of them were concomitantly exploring options to move to hybrid or exclusively telemedicine-based care. Kareo’s analysis of substantive patient appointments across over 50,000 medical clinics found that independent medical practices had experienced an approximately 35% decline in patient volume by late March. This established signal around the apparent inability for patients to access care and the operational viability of medical practices if this trend continues today.

This move resembles the old Dust Bowl phenomenon. The governments have caused a radical shift into a virtual clinic visit, creating a dark cloud over small medical clinics abandoning physical office encounters and promoting Telemedicine as the primary solution. That is a kind f move that may make sense of false and temporary security to independent physicians.

It is conceivable that the Telehealth system is a necessity, as it plays a significant role in the healthcare delivery arrangement. However, by no means is it a substitute for the actual clinic visit. Abandoning workforce is faulty as Telemedicine will not be enough to care for the sick without in-person clinic visits. Still, it seems evident that the system is conveying the wrong message for the off-beam purpose.

Large healthcare systems are maintaining their position utilizing the power of money and influence. Nevertheless, Independent medical practices struggle to make ends meet by receiving a false sense of security, potentially harmful to an independent physician’s future.

Once independent physicians enter the virtual-only market and feel the temporary liberation, then the expected adverse side effects will start surfacing, like malpractice, patient dissatisfaction, and so much more.

Small Grassroots medical clinics and hospitals are needed to provide top-notch medical services to local community patients, particularly in rural neighborhoods. However, the biased vision of the current administrative system only gifts the entire healthcare sector to the corporate corner.

Rural communities amid Coronavirus pandemic

The continuation of the COVID-19 pandemic is placing an increasing burden on private hospitals and clinics throughout the nation. The growing number of hospitals, particularly rural areas, are struggling to maintain sufficient reserves to outlast fiscal viability because most rural hospitals operate on razor-thin perimeters and high-margin services such as elective surgery. For many rural hospitals, canceling these valuable services to cope with the outbreak may be the tipping point for financial adversity. As Congress puts together economic relief plans, little is known about how this relief will aid rural hospitals and their workforce, if at all, hence exposing them to another Dust Bowl.

It has been in history demonstrated that governments have perpetually overlooked the science in favor of political gain, just like the 1930’s crisis of Great Plains. Precisely what is happening right now with the Coronavirus pandemic, but then again, according to a publication in the New England Journal of Medicine, Governments, and policymakers must strive to counteract the inadequacy of medical resources. The administration must pledge those individual doctors nevermore have to choose which patients receive life-saving care and which do not.

Physicians must have the authority and flexibility to alleviate physician burden and ensure equal treatment. The conveyance of that Telehealth by itself is the answer, or it is to replace the office encounter to enforce the “stay at home” order is wrong.

The Homestead Act was a Disaster precipitated by the Off beam Policy

The1930’s Dust Bowl crisis was no less damaging to the farmers of the Great plains than the Great depression. It was considered the most prominent single human-made environmental devastation in the country’s chronicle. Dust Bowl transformed American societies as thousands of people lost their farms, their way of life, and even their lives.

The Homestead Act of 1862 initially gave homesteaders with 160 acres of municipal land, followed by the Kinkaid Act of 1904 as well as the Enlarged Homestead Act of 1909. These laws drove massive migration of new and green farmers across the Great Plains, the majority of whom believed, “the rain follows the plow.”
Policymakers did not directly cause the Dust Bowl, neither intended to do so, but they aren’t entirely blameless.

Franklin Roosevelt, who held the notion that the government orders could be a force for virtue in improving the human part, didn’t approve the decisions of his committee, but he accepted them. Despite their testament, lawmakers continued with their strategies by telling the truth, but no one listened.

The Demise of Independent Medical Practices, the Lesson Unlearned

As Author of a publication in Foundation for Economic Equality (FEE), Glenn Corey writes:

“First, the full consequences of a given policy can take many years, even decades, to play out. This makes it very difficult to pinpoint the ultimate cause of a particular event. Second, multiple policies can combine to create a situation that no single policy would have brought about by itself.”

Then he continues:

“In this case, the Homestead Act of 1862 brought people to the Great Plains, but it wasn’t enough to get people to plow the land. The other acts, which followed the Homestead Act by over forty years, encouraged people to act in a way that disrupted the delicate ecological balance that had been established throughout millennia. Finally, when policymakers are committed to a certain course of action, they will often proceed regardless of input received from experts.”

Independent physicians are already suffering through excessive mandates. Many rural Americans have had limited access to healthcare long before Coronavirus pandemics. The “relative shortage” of physicians in rural areas of the United States is 1 of the few constants in any account of the U.S. medical care system. About 20% of the U.S. population, more than 50 million people live in rural areas- but only 9% of the country’s physicians practice in rural communities. Thus- limiting physicians’ practices is not only counterproductive to the delivery of quality medical care but is also detrimental to the ever-shaking healthcare foundation. Of course, if the excuse is to prevent Coronavirus spread, that opens another chapter for discussion. However, to be brief, there are many modalities to avert infection dissemination without subjecting medical staff and patients to unnecessary exposure. In other words, failing to keep physicians and medical staff practicing means patients, especially those in rural areas, go without medical care.

Despite all the intricacies, there is still a group of physicians like Dr. Natalie King. They are, indeed, willing to practice in rural communities, something that Managed care systems and corporations will have a hard time providing. But the COVID — 19 Dust Bowl bent by the ineffectual solutions is hindering physician survival, moreso those in rural communities.

Lousy Policy, the Healthcare Politicization, and Sociopolitical Globalization

The Bad Policy

Millions of seniors in the United States rely on Medicare Advantage, one of the several government entitlements programs that rely on private “competition” instead of governmental authorization. But practically, large insurers are using this opportunity by absorbing the wealth of taxpayer dollars without rendering service.

According to recent government releases, since 2016, private insurers that extend Medicare Advantage plans to eligible patients have defrauded taxpayers by over $30 billion and deprived seniors of access to critical medications.

Medicare Advantage theoretically works with- instead of against, corporations to provide medical services to patients. As an alternative to dictating plans and reimbursements to providers, the government pays competing insurers to offer patients the plans for additional out-of-pocket costs.

Based on the policymaker’s assumption, this competition system is meant to function, saving taxpayers at least $400 million less annually than government-managed Medicare plans. However, the supposedly comprehensive, cost-effective program is increasingly being undermined by insurance companies looking to skim taxpayer reserves.

Based on a report, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) private insurers participating in Medicare Advantage have overbilled the system above $9 billion annually for the last three years.

Politicization

During the public health crisis of COVID-19 and the economic calamity that We directed from the government-mandated social shutdown, the public’s attention has focused on immediate threats and instantaneous consequences. That, plausibly, led to prominence on figures such as the approximately 2.1 million people acquired COVID-19, 118,000 who died from the virus. And millions have filed for unemployment benefits since the crisis began. But one fundamental stress that has gone unattended is the uncounted trillions of tax dollars accumulated onto the national deficit during the current situation. The latter will surely haunt future generations for decades, even after the pandemic subsides and the economy recommences. Thus, COVID-19 debt formed as part of the administration’s response denotes a fundamentally immoral intergenerational transference of wealth to our children and grandchildren.

Those who directly avail from the spending bill are merely passing it down to the younger generation and tomorrow’s taxpayers to bear the responsibility. Responding to a crisis today without considering its implications tomorrow is rash and destined for one more Dust Bowl.

Manhattan Institute economist Brian Riedl estimates- the COVID-19 pandemic and government response will lead to an astounding $8 trillion in the new federal budget deficit.

In light of the known realism, policymakers chose the politically promising route in the short term and shrugged off the future penalties as not their problem.

Amidst Coronavirus pandemics, just like their peers during the Dust Bowl era, politicians are turning away from paying equal attention to the expert opinions from various sources. Indeed- they have perpetually overlooked the view of some infectious disease experts like Dr. John Ioannidis as to why Government Lockdowns must end.

Dr. Ioannidis is the C.F. Rehnborg Chair in Disease Prevention at Stanford University, who has authored some of the most praised medical journal articles in records. He is questioning medical findings of a virus that isn’t just deadly but deeply controversial. In his writing, Dr. Loanndis expands- prolonged lockdowns fuel economic crisis, producing mass unemployment. Undivided populations may witness a decreased quality of life and mental health. Gun sales in the U.S. have steeply increased since the lockdown started, with unpredictable outgrowths. Under lockdown environments, countless patients with critical yet treatable conditions will avoid seeking care or getting the proper treatment. This disruption may be perceived in the needless losses occurring so far in the COVID-19 lockdown. Patients with cancer whose treatment is delayed have more harmful consequences.

Lockdowns executed during the high infectious activity will drive infective people to spend more time with frail and elderly relatives in crowded places. Low wages, essential laborers adopt higher risks, and shelters for exposed homeless persons become infection hotspots. While wealthy, healthy citizens afford to stay at home. Stress may also impact our immune responses to respiratory infections. And, with the added fear spread by various media sources, lockdowns represent uniquely stressful events for the average citizen.

As Thomas Sowell said once-

“The national debt is the ghost of Christmas past.” For future generations, holidays may not offer much cause for celebration.”

Globalization

Today’s political tormenter is the notion of “technocratic neoliberalism.” It merely refers to the current sociopolitical status quo as a geographically centered, management, or municipal, university-educated landed gentry. The neo-liberal technocrats have effectively taken control of the U.S. political, economic, and cultural life spectrum. “The Good Club,” progressive globalists are using COVID-19 pandemic to push their peculiar ‘technocratic solutions. The rationale comprises eliminating cash, fossil fuels, individual privacy, family values.

Technocratic activists have abundant resolutions to the coronavirus crisis as well. Amid the present-day elite, it is widespread that everyone will agree if one lays out the data. And if the same person accepts those facts, then there is only one correct viewpoint.

Today, people no longer disagree on points- but about how to fit them within their values. The aftermath means a deadlock that has one side pitted against the other without a bargain. The populous, especially millennials, espouse faith in the technology, irrespective of the vision and mission used to build that particular technology.

Globalization of technology prompts the world population into an indiscriminate crisis if it occurs. Hence, the outcome of the coronavirus pandemic is a form of commotion that puts the populace’s faith in line with the technocrats with tactical directives. The COVID-19 crises are being swiveled through different strategies pointing at power and profiteering.

The coronavirus pandemic will ultimately settle. In the interim, it will contest the world’s resilience versus not merely a virus; but misinformation and scapegoating with the global conviction of “the Good Club.” Accordingly, it’s in all likelihood that populists, globalists by the pointers of the corporate cartel, exploit public hysteria to their gain.

Current Healthcare Policy is another Dust Bowl Phenomenon

The healthcare subject is a multilayered one, and every layer conveys the potential Dust Bowl of its own- through faulty policies and other missions. But all send one universal note. The Coronavirus pandemic is the epitome of circumstances. We have created a type of socioeconomic chaos out of a public health crisis that will affect our generation and generations to come. Policies from shutting down clinics, Globalization of the economy, governments partnering with or empowering corporate entities are part of the spectacle which resembles plowing the Great Plaines in the 1930’s Dust Bowl. So, let’s not make the same slipup over and over again.

#Dustbowl #covid #pandemics #politics

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