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Corporate Journalists Are Blind to a Big COVID Lesson
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One of my complaints about mainstream media is that they recruit reporters from inside the establishment: Ivy League colleges, expensive graduate journalism programs, rival outlets with similar hiring practices. Some staffs develop admirable levels of gender and racial diversity. But they all come from the same elite class. Rich kids believe in the system and they accept its basic assumptions.

On New Year’s Day, a reporter (UPenn and Oxford, of course) published a solid piece for The Washington Post about an important issue: how America’s “fractured” health care system hurts our response to COVID-19. Seeking to answer the question of why the pandemic is still going on after the miraculously rapid development and distribution of vaccines, the Post identified organizational shortcomings as part of the problem, citing the need for “improvements on the delivery side.” She quoted an expert who called for “increasing staffing and funding for local health departments, many of which have been running on a shoestring. Officials in some local health departments still transfer data by fax.” Both true. I’ve been asked to fax my records recently.

But nowhere in the Post piece was there any mention of what the United States is missing that most other countries in the developing world are not: a unified national health care system like the United Kingdom’s NHS.

I’m not talking here about fully socialized medicine or a single-payer Medicare For All system like the one championed by Bernie Sanders, although I strongly believe Americans need and deserve one. This isn’t about who pays for health care (though it should obviously be covered 100% by the government).

It’s about data integration.

In the same way that law enforcement agencies across the country can access criminal records from other jurisdictions via the FBI’s National Data Exchange system, public health officials need access to a real-time, constantly updated source of every report of disease whether it’s known or novel, the visit was paid for in cash by the patient or covered by insurance, or it was diagnosed by a country doctor, walk-in urgent care center or a giant urban hospital system.

A fully integrated national health care database would be a powerful side benefit of a national health care system like Medicare For All. But how likely is Sanders’ pet project to cross the mind of a writer who graduated from UPenn and Oxford and has a gold health insurance plan provided by her employer, who is Jeff Bezos?

Here in America, the nation’s top epidemiologists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are flying blind, relying on algorithmic models that estimate what’s going on rather than providing accurate, precise situational awareness.

I tested positive for COVID-19 on Dec. 30. I notified my doctor’s office on Jan. 1 but due to the holiday didn’t hear back until Jan. 3. Will New York City authorities and/or the CDC be notified about my case and, if so, when?

Several friends and friends of friends also tested positive during the omicron surge using home tests. Many, probably most, didn’t tell their doctor. You have to assume that official numbers for omicron have been significantly underreported.


If we had a national health care system instead of a medical Wild West in which the ailing are jostling against one another, fighting over $24 testing kits like shoppers rushing into Best Buy on Black Friday, testing would be handled through clinics and doctor’s offices in coordination with the federal government, which would instantly compile the results.

A national health care database could include “visualization tools to graphically depict associations between people, places, things and events either on a link-analysis chart or on a map. For ongoing investigations, the subscription and notification feature automatically notifies analysts if other users are searching for the same criteria or if a new record concerning their investigation is added to the system … (allowing) analysts to work with other analysts across the nation in a collaborative environment that instantly and securely shares pertinent information.”

I lifted that last quote from an FBI description of their police database. Crime, by the way, kills a small fraction of the number of Americans who die from disease.

HIPAA regulations governing patient records would need to be modified by Congress, but consider the potentially lifesaving benefits even when there is no longer a pandemic. Medical errors are the third-leading cause of death in the United States.

Decentralized recordkeeping is a public health disaster. If you live in Wyoming, there is no good reason that your health care records shouldn’t be accessible to first responders driving the ambulance that responds to a call that you collapsed and are unconscious at a mall in Florida. As soon as you are identified — something that could be facilitated by a national health care ID card that you carry in your wallet or as an app on your smartphone — EMS workers could use your patient history to identify chronic problems. They could avoid a medication to which you might be allergic or feel confident in administering one thanks to the knowledge that you are not.

I didn’t go to UPenn and Oxford. As an independent writer, I pay my own health insurance. I am reminded of America’s crappy health care system every time I pay my ACA bill and every time I cough up a copay. Newspapers like the Post may or may not need me. But they definitely need people like me if they want to relate to the readers they’re trying to serve.

Ted Rall (Twitter: @tedrall), the political cartoonist, columnist and graphic novelist, is the author of a new graphic novel about a journalist gone bad, “The Stringer.”

• Category: Ideology • Tags: American Media, Coronavirus, Health care 
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  1. meamjojo says:

    So much I could comment on but I am not going to waste my time beating this dead horse.

    There are far too many stakeholders making good money and paying good money to their lobbyists to allow any significant form of healthcare revision/consolidation to occur in the USA.

    Also recognize that any changes stand to throw many people out of work they have been doing for years.

    For instance, everyone says they want to simplify medical billing. But there are a whole army of people, companies and systems built around publishing, developing, maintaining, servicing and interpreting all things related to medical billing. If you obsolete them, what do you train the old workers to do and do you really think they are going to go along quietly for this idea?

    Realistically, being that the USA is a corporatocracy, the #1 goal of Congress in putting together any revised health insurance plan is going to be how to keep the insurance companies and hospitals viable and their campaign donations flowing into Congressional pockets, so it is very unlikely that one would see any real change at all.

    Your best hope is to wait until you hit 65 yo. Then you get on Medicare, which is what a national health system should be. I pay around $350/month for Medicare Parts A, B & D and a supplement plan (‘N’). Outside of the monthly premiums, my only out-of-pocket is the one-time annual Medicare part B deductible of about $220 this year and a $20 co-pay for office visits. PERIOD.

    • Replies: @TomSchmidt
  2. The tests don’t work.

    The tests don’t work.

    The tests don’t work.

    • Agree: Adam Smith
    • Replies: @The Anti-Gnostic
  3. National Health Care is of course the only sane health care system. Americans, of course, are insane. Thus, no National Health Care.

    Meanwhile, while we debate this impossible to enact and minor thing, Elites are screwing the lid on a big Nazi immiseration surveillance jar-state, where they are angling for a law that allows them to just shake it up good, and beat you, every one of you, over the head, every day, for no reason, just to keep you in line. Yup. That’s the next law. Get ready

    • Replies: @Bro43rd
  4. There was a time–long, LONG ago–when the left wisely distrusted authority. Now it seems they’re “all-in” on every possible invasive tactic of the surveillance state, including monitoring one’s health.

    As covidhoax proves, the threat needn’t even be real. Either you get the vaxport or you’re restricted from traveling, buying anything or receiving any health care. That’s what the State offers for “free.”

    Only by doing exactly what we say can you remain free.

  5. dearieme says:

    The NHS is so good at record-keeping that our local World Famous Teaching Hospital turned out to have two different sets of records for me, one based on a misspelling of my name.

    The last time I was in the hospital for a procedure on my heart I was visited at my bedside by the Consultant Cardiac Surgeon (= top dog). Now, said he, you suffer from CVD. First I’ve heard of it, said I. But you have had a stent fitted, he argued. Nope, I replied. The obvious interpretation is that he’d been looking at someone else’s medical record.

    Anyway I had the procedure but between them the surgeon and the anaesthetist must have cocked up because I regained consciousness while they were still fannying around inside my chest. It was, you may say, a bit sore.

    Don’t, Oh America, copy the NHS. It stinks. Learn from Singapore, Germany, Australia or others but don’t copy the NHS.

    • LOL: meamjojo
    • Replies: @mulga mumblebrain
  6. Bro43rd says:

    Yes because all the other government run systems work so well. No thanks! I’ll take my chances with the smidgen of free market that remains in the “we sold our soul to the state” healthcare/sickcare/insurance corporatocracy.

    • Replies: @obwandiyag
  7. anon[416] • Disclaimer says:

    This is a profoundly retarded piece even by Rall’s standards. Centralized data has nothing whatever to do with quality health care. Centralized data is corporations banging every hammer with their nail.

    Here is the mindset: I took a worthless shit test and got a positive and I presume it’s not false (I don’t know the test’s sensitivity or specificity, I just trust it despite the terminal corruption this pandemic has exposed.) My doctor didn’t call me because he makes shitloads of money doing procedures so he flew away for holiday but I think something would be different if everybody at CDC knows I’m sick. CDC won’t let me have early treatment because they’re bribed to stuff biologics up my ass, but maybe they’ll let some other asshole blow out my lungs with a deadly ventilator or something.

    This pandemic is eugenics in its purest form. It scares morons into acquiescence to catastrophic medical experimentation involving the human genome, new surveillance pretexts, mass house arrest, and other rights derogations.

    I hope NIAID’s next chimeric variant involves hemorrhagic fever liquefying compliant dimbulbs with a R0 of 50. A society giving rise to stupidity of this scope necessitates mass extermination.

    • Agree: PJ London
  8. Fun stuff, for sure. Those big fat elephants in Ted’s room.

    Oh, when were those glory days of journalism? I was a beat reporter for several rags, and then carried on later in life while cobbling together part-time college teaching, freelance writing, part-time regular newspaper work, and, well, more.

    The idea of FBI and cops having this wonderful data collection system, all the info on us, including traffic tickets, all of the fines, all the late payments, all those penalties, tolls, surcharges, evictions, terminations, foreclosures. Oh, all that data, the stuff to help us all in corporate America.

    Oh, all those data apps and surveillance tools crated by those private companies. All of that stuff, we, the taxpayer dole out as not just corporate welfare, but massive trillions in criminal enterprises called Capitalism.

    We’ll get that chip that Ted wants. Get all that stuff on the chip — education, police records, journalism stuff, anything we’ve posted on line, our whereabouts each day of the week, our purchases, our credit score, our life score.

    So, then, you report you have Omega-cron, and then, who gets that, and what do “they” do with “that” information? You think a record of SARS-CoV2 will help you if you get any number of long term disabling diseases? You think “they” might attribute almost everything to long Covid, and then, how’s that going to work on the job, in society, with health care, insurance?

    We need clinics everywhere. Free. We need dental facilities everywhere, free. We need the right kind of mental health professionals set up everywhere, free.

    If you haven’t got the memo yet that Capitalism here in USA is inflammatory disease numoero uno.

    So, you going to pray to Goldman Sachs, Soros, Bloomberg, Musk, Bezos, Gates, WEF, the other 4,000 billionaires and their henchmen and henchwomen millionaire Eichmann’s for this and that crumb?

    Journalists? Elites? And those of us who did the ground work covering all aspects of a city, county and state, we getting that har-har job lying through our teeth. Ivy League is all about lies, and you know that. But then so is capitalism, this Stockholm Syndrome GAD, suicidal, predatory, parasitic United Snakes of Amerikkka.

    You know that deep down, Ted. Admit it.

  9. ted has stated publicly he has been vaccinated 4 times
    yet he still is infected
    perhaps this explains his juvenile cartoons?
    Ted Rall is the poorest illustrator out there

    My 12 year old daughter is a better illustrator than he is.
    His most constant gig is talking shit on Sputnik radio
    Fuck off and die rall

    • Agree: PJ London
  10. PJ London says:

    What a load of hogwah.
    What is needed, as it has been since time immemorial, is treatment for trauma, preferably free and close by, and doctors who treat patients and not mere pill peddlers for the pharmaceuticals.
    Had a local doctor treat my wife for a serious cut. Wipe with antibiotic wash, apply mixture of Iodine and Vaseline and slap a large plaster over the lot. Healed in a week and no scar.
    Remember that the objective of all Pharmaceuticals is to sell pills, not to cure anything.
    Objective of doctors is to buy the wife (and girl friend) a Mercedes.
    You are not going to live forever. My wife has been on blood pressure pills for 30 years, if she stops or misses then her pressure goes through the roof. What started as a anxiety driven short term problem has turned into an addiction.
    Look at the ‘symptoms’ of Hyperthyroidism (and identical Hypothyroidism) and you have at least 5 – 10 of them.
    Look at the side effects of thyroid medication and it cover 70% of all illnesses. It is insane.
    I forget the source, but some 25% of Americans take 5 or more pills every day!
    There is no medical system.
    It is an insurance scam (which had to be legislated to make it work) and the Insurance-Pharmaceutical-Medical industries are killing themselves – with laughter, at the suckers who are funding their private jets and boats.

  11. @Bro43rd

    Oh, so corporate-run systems work really well!

    You are an idiot. Corporations are just governments without the morality.

    Anyhow, national health insurance is no different from what we have now. Except all the insurance money goes in one pot. Thus effecting economies of scale. In other words, you can keep your present doctor and your present teddy-bear.

    Oh, this is hopeless. You are too stupid to understand the most rudimentary economics.

    • Replies: @Bro43rd
  12. Roger says: • Website

    “This isn’t about who pays for health care (though it should obviously be covered 100% by the government).”

    Obviously. This is so obvious that I completely missed it. I am still laboring under the (obviously false) understanding that I am responsible for myself.

    Now, I ask you, why should the government pay for your own personal health care? Why should the government be responsible to take care of you at all? Why should the government dictate to you what you can eat, drink, inhale, inject, or engage in? And many, many other things which the government wants to add to their methods of controlling your health…and everything else about the way you live.

    Because there is a lot of money in it and money equates to power over other people.

    Obviously. This is so obvious that even Ted Rall should be able to comprehend it.

    There are none so blind as those who refuse to see.

    • Agree: Sick of Orcs, Bro43rd
    • Replies: @Sick of Orcs
  13. @Roger

    If someone else is forced to provide it, it’s not a right.

  14. FUN-ny but Schwab is a globalist not a communist.

    Video Link

    • Replies: @TomSchmidt
  15. The virus is just a virus. Fear is the disease.

    The sheer efficiency and speed with which this plandemic has rolled out makes it plain to me this operation has been in the works for quite some time.

    What is clear to me now is that we never had a chance to win this fight and that the lion’s share of our morality, decency, bravery, shrewdness, and civility have only ever been skin deep… We were never more than one obvious-lying-media-scaremongering-blitz away from throwing all of those window dressing virtues right through the nearest window.

    Here is the truth about the flim-flam-demic:

  16. Mac_ says:

    I would put the article title differently, most of media are not journalists, not repeating facts such as car accident, most are pushers of perpaganda or dictators, which the word blind in the title assumes weakness or no choice in what they do. Some memes have been pushed a long time, such as puppet media or govt, as if grown females and males aren’t in control of themselves, but each chooses to do what they do and say what they say. No one forces them. Those in media claim they’re ‘reportin newz’, but repeating what dictators say is the same as the dictators. Also a con is fakey debating between them, which is so people don’t rise up or talk among ourselves or protest.

    Just some things to note.

    On the notion of centralization as a good idea, on anything, I think we can see that has been a gargantuan mistake, or plan, otherwise known as monopoly, which ignorance by most people will prove untenable. We really should have stuck with being in tribes, and sharing, and using herbs and natural remedies, and conking predators with a caveman club instead of letting things such as ‘military’ or ‘lawyers’ happen. Things were much better back then.


  17. SafeNow says:

    Oh, this is hopeless

    This is the best comment. In fact, it could serve as a universal best comment to all essays.

  18. @Priss Factor

    Thanks for that video. Rutte deserved that comeuppance.

  19. Despite how broken the US healthcare system is, its lack of single-payer left a few gaps where independent-thinking physicians could still prescribe forbidden prescriptions for patients. There is no open way to get around those proscriptions against cheap prophylactics and curatives in countries where ALL physicians are beholden to ONE payer who can cut them off when they disobey it.

    American healthcare is too expensive, too bureaucratized, and too given to group-think. Any change that eliminates even the small escape hatches from that system is a disaster.

  20. @meamjojo

    I’m glad it works for you. Consider this:

    “The Part A trust is largely funded from the 1.45% payroll tax paid by employees and employers, and pandemic-related job losses have decreased the cash flow into the fund. David Shulkin, MD, a senior fellow at the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics at the University of Pennsylvania, estimates that, even with a conservative estimate of pandemic-related decreases in payroll taxes, the fund could become insolvent, or unable to pay out for health care coverage, as early as 2022 or 2023. ”

    You’re a cost dragging on the system. PERIOD. That’s not the way that I see you, but it is the way some bean counter in DC does. Paying for YOUR healthcare doesn’t raise any funds for General Dynamics to build weapons and kick some scratch back for lobbying and campaign contributions. The $35,000 payment to hospitals for Covid, allowing them to avoid liability if prescribing Remdesivir, is just the first way of lowering Medicare costs.

    There will be more. Plan accordingly.

    • Replies: @meamjojo
  21. meamjojo says:

    I’m confident that Medicare will remain at least as comprehensive, if not more so into the foreseeable future. Seniors are a strong voting bloc. The working people will just have to ante up more taxes.

    • Replies: @TomSchmidt
  22. @meamjojo

    The military and security state will kill to maintain its budget. It’s not a matter of extracting taxes from the working poor. There’s the real threat of having to share the bounty of Fed-printed dollars with people outside the security state. They won’t like that. Killing people on Medicare avoids the problem.

    Since the over-65 population looks like the USA in 1956, overwhelmingly white, it also will remove a “privileged” group. I hope it continues to work for you.

  23. Bro43rd says:

    That’s what I figured I’d get from you, ad-hominim attacks. You’re just a troll for big-government generally & specifically socialism, just not a very good troll.

  24. @obwandiyag

    Neither do the masks. Or the vaccines.

    • Agree: Sick of Orcs
    • Disagree: Corvinus
  25. …a unified national health care system like the United Kingdom’s NHS.

    This is only possible in unified nations. In other words, 1948 Britain.

    The “minister responsible” today is one Sajid Javid.

  26. @dearieme

    The NHS has been sabotaged by the Tories and ‘Blue Labour’ Blairites for decades. So that it produces, justifiably, disgruntled victims, like yourself, who will not object when the profitable bits are all sold off. It’s how parasites work.

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