The Economy Can’t Recover With Sick Workers

Even mild cases of COVID-19 have affected workers’ ability to do their jobs and enjoy their lives, sometimes causing miserable knock-on effects on their finances. Benjamin Walmer is a New Jersey chef and architect specializing in kitchen and restaurant design, who contracted a minor case of COVID-19 in March. “I’ve had colds that had worse symptoms,” he told me. Nevertheless, he said, the illness affected his ability to hold meetings, visit people’s homes and businesses, and find new clients. “Relationships are everything in this industry, and there’s a great deal of intimacy around design,” he said. “There were these multiple points of disruption that compounded one another.”

More severe cases have had more severe effects, for workers and the companies that employ them. Yvonne Evans has been a nurse for three decades, and runs a surgical clinic at the John D. Dingell Veterans Administration Medical Center in Detroit. She contracted a severe case of COVID-19 in the spring and is a long-hauler: She still has fatigue and shortness of breath half a year later. “I know what is happening to me; that’s the scary part,” she told me. “I know vasoconstriction when I see it.”

She now uses a mobility scooter to get around the hospital, and struggles to work as she used to. She said she was contemplating retiring early, although that would be a significant financial hit to her family. “Do I need to go on disability? I don’t know,” she said. “I’m trying to see how much damage it has done to my lungs, because the lungs do regenerate tissue.” Losing highly experienced professionals like Evans is straining the health system and the broader workforce. More than 200,000 health workers have contracted COVID-19 this year, and roughly 1,000 have died.

Other essential workers are bearing extraordinary risk, too. Francis Robateau was a veteran night manager for a Southern California grocery store, restocking shelves and managing inventory. Unable to both practice social distancing and keep the store filled with goods, he caught COVID-19. “I started having massive migraines,” he told me, adding that he still struggled with neurological symptoms and headaches weeks later. Concerned that his employer did not take safety protocols seriously enough, he ended up quitting. “I haven’t been making any income,” he told me. “My partner has been taking care of it—her mindset is ‘No, dude, you’re not feeling 100 percent; there’s no reason for you to take a full-time job.’”

For some, sickness has been catastrophic. Paz Aguilar, who worked at two fast-food restaurants in Oakland, California, ended up in a medically induced coma after contracting COVID-19, along with half a dozen of her co-workers. A stroke left her partially paralyzed. “I’d like to go back to work,” she told me, speaking in Spanish. But she cannot imagine doing so. That has put her and her extended family at severe economic risk, and increased the caretaking burden on her relatives.

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Analysis: Bidencare or Trumpcare? Health plans will affect the U.S. economy differently

(Reuters) – Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden wants to expand the Affordable Care Act, President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare legislation, and then name it after himself.

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump speaks about healthcare at a campaign event at Charlotte Douglas International Airport in Charlotte, North Carolina, U.S., September 24, 2020. REUTERS/Tom Brenner

Republican President Donald Trump wants to end it altogether, and replace it with something that has yet to be defined.

An ongoing debate over which approach is better for the economy is partly about price tags. Bidencare is forecast to increase federal healthcare spending by $2 trillion or more over 10 years. Trump’s approach is to hold federal spending stable or reduce it.

Bidencare supporters emphasize the stimulative effects of government spending, especially in a period of economic distress, and the benefits of insuring more people in the middle of a pandemic. Those who prefer Trump’s approach say it would avoid debt or tax increases they say would drag on future economic growth.

The United States has about 30 million people without health insurance tmsnrt.rs/3mzqQxC now, down from about 46.5 million in 2010, when the ACA was passed.

Graphic – Under ACA, a drop in the number of uninsured:

Bidencare would cut that figure by a further 15 million to 20 million, an analysis by the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget estimates. Trump isn’t expected to try to reduce that.

Healthcare spending is equal to 17% of the U.S. economy, far more than any other industrialized country, so the Trumpcare vs. Bidencare debate is no small economic matter. It’s further complicated by the fact that extra spending doesn’t translate to a healthier populace than other counties.

“Improving healthcare performance is a critical part of strengthening America’s health, economy and fiscal future, and should be top a priority for the next president and Congress,” says Peterson Foundation CEO Michael Peterson.

BIDENCARE FOCUSES ON LOWER-INCOME AMERICANS

Bidencare would cover more Americans by increasing subsidized health insurance purchases through tax credits.

It would also offer a “public option,” allowing anyone who wants it to buy in, even if their job offers private insurance. Lower-income families shut out of ACA’s expanded Medicaid eligibility because of where they live could get it premium-free.

Any boost to health and financial stability is likely to be biggest for millions of low-income households, particularly Latino and Black families who have been particularly hard-hit during the pandemic.

For these groups especially, says the University of Michigan School of Public Health’s Helen Levy, being able to accumulate assets “is really important if you think about supporting economic mobility.”

Minorities get and die from COVID-19 at higher rates than whites, data shows. Some of that is probably because Blacks and Latinos are more likely to work in jobs that put them at higher risk of transmission.

But even without COVID-19, minorities face higher rates of chronic disease and earlier death than whites. They also have lower rates of health insurance despite substantial gains since the advent

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Bidencare or Trumpcare? Health plans will affect the U.S. economy differently

By Ann Saphir

(Reuters) – Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden wants to expand the Affordable Care Act, President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare legislation, and then name it after himself.

Republican President Donald Trump wants to end it altogether, and replace it with something that has yet to be defined.

An ongoing debate over which approach is better for the economy is partly about price tags. Bidencare is forecast to increase federal healthcare spending by $2 trillion or more over 10 years. Trump’s approach is to hold federal spending stable or reduce it.

Bidencare supporters emphasize the stimulative effects of government spending, especially in a period of economic distress, and the benefits of insuring more people in the middle of a pandemic. Those who prefer Trump’s approach say it would avoid debt or tax increases they say would drag on future economic growth.

The United States has about 30 million people without health insurance https://tmsnrt.rs/3mzqQxC now, down from about 46.5 million in 2010, when the ACA was passed.

Bidencare would cut that figure by a further 15 million to 20 million, an analysis by the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget estimates. Trump isn’t expected to try to reduce that.

Healthcare spending is equal to 17% of the U.S. economy, far more than any other industrialized country, so the Trumpcare vs. Bidencare debate is no small economic matter. It’s further complicated by the fact that extra spending doesn’t translate to a healthier populace than other counties.

“Improving healthcare performance is a critical part of strengthening America’s health, economy and fiscal future, and should be top a priority for the next president and Congress,” says Peterson Foundation CEO Michael Peterson.

BIDENCARE FOCUSES ON LOWER-INCOME AMERICANS

Bidencare would cover more Americans by increasing subsidized health insurance purchases through tax credits.

It would also offer a “public option,” allowing anyone who wants it to buy in, even if their job offers private insurance. Lower-income families shut out of ACA’s expanded Medicaid eligibility because of where they live could get it premium-free.

Any boost to health and financial stability is likely to be biggest for millions of low-income households, particularly Latino and Black families who have been particularly hard-hit during the pandemic.

For these groups especially, says the University of Michigan School of Public Health’s Helen Levy, being able to accumulate assets “is really important if you think about supporting economic mobility.”

Minorities get and die from COVID-19 at higher rates than whites, data shows. Some of that is probably because Blacks and Latinos are more likely to work in jobs that put them at higher risk of transmission.

But even without COVID-19, minorities face higher rates of chronic disease and earlier death than whites. They also have lower rates of health insurance despite substantial gains since the advent of the ACA, a study by Kaiser Family Foundation shows.

Biden said he would pay for his plan through higher taxes on the wealthy, and use the clout of expanded public insurance to keep

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Why Trump’s health care price transparency rules will reignite America’s economy: Art Laffer

In a historic win for all Americans on Thursday, President Trump issued a final rule requiring health insurers to post the prices they have negotiated with hospitals, medical facilities, and doctors. Under this rule, health care consumers, including employers sponsoring workplace coverage, can finally know prices before they receive care. This action will increase competition, lower prices, and save American families money.

Combined with the Trump administration’s already finalized hospital price transparency rule, which requires hospitals to publish the secret rates they negotiate with insurance companies as well as the cash payments they will accept, Thursday’s announcement will usher in a transparent health care sector with less need for the middlemen that have capitalized on patients’ misfortune.

Once these rules delivering complete health care price transparency take effect (January 1, 2021 for the hospital rule and one year later for the insurance rule), we can expect our economy to come roaring back, and our beleaguered health care system to rebound as well.

Knowing the real prices of health care and coverage beforehand will be a huge boon for all Americans–patients, workers, employers and taxpayers.

HEALTH INSURANCE FOR MILLENNIALS, GEN Z, MOST LIKELY TO BE AFFECTED BY PANDEMIC

Together the rules will unleash a real market in health care, usher in competition and choice, dramatically lowering the costs of care and coverage. Fewer dollars going to health care and more going to wages, jobs and small businesses in our local communities will help boost our nation’s economic recovery.

When complete health care price transparency is in place, patients, consumers, and employers will be able to better shop for health care, and high-tech innovators will eagerly develop tools to help consumers access and compare prices. Better informed buyers of health care will take advantage of the huge price variation that exists in the current, opaque market.

For instance, a recent study from the respected RAND Corporation found employer-sponsored plans are paying hospitals two-and-a-half times more than Medicare pays for the same procedure. Since almost all hospitals accept Medicare, those government rates are by definition “acceptable,” which means hospitals are price-gouging workers and employers, and growing rich at the expense of the middle-class.

US MILITARY WON’T ADMINISTER CORONAVIRUS VACCINES, HEALTH OFFICIALS SAY

Insurance companies are no better, reaping huge profits as health care costs have soared. The average premium for an employer-provided family health insurance plan in 2020 jumped to $21,300–a 55 percent increase over a decade earlier. During that same time, deductibles more than tripled.

Last year I co-authored a study with health economist Larry Van Horn, it found that cash prices are, on average, 39 percent lower than the insurers’ negotiated rates for the same care. Throughout the country, businesses have saved 30 to 50 percent on health care costs by directly contracting with price transparent doctors and medical facilities, leaving insurers out of the equation.

It’s time to disrupt

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Swiss take ‘middle path’ in curbs to slow COVID without crippling economy

ZURICH (Reuters) – Switzerland on Wednesday ordered dance clubs closed and added new mask requirements while leaving the nation largely open for business as it tries to contain surging COVID-19 cases without resorting to a stricter, economy-crippling lockdown.

The government in Bern ordered in-person college classes halted from Monday, placed new limits on sporting and leisure activities, and ordered masks worn in packed offices, secondary schools and even outdoors if people cannot keep their distance.

Switzerland, which in June appeared to have COVID-19 contained as daily cases dwindled to just a handful, saw new infections soar to 8,616 on Wednesday – roughly 0.1% of the population in a single day.

Even so, the government stopped short of shutting retail business, restaurants and other key segments of the economy in hopes that more-limited measures will be enough.

“We have to work with a scalpel and make very precise cuts,” Health Minister Alain Berset told reporters in Bern. “If it’s not possible to get the virus under control, then other measures are possible. But we’re trying to take a middle path.”

In some regions, hospitals and intensive care units are filling up, with doctors warning the health care system could be stretched to breaking point within 10 days.

To help avoid such a scenario, public gatherings will be limited to 50 people or less, and sporting and cultural activities with more than 15 people will be banned.

Bars and restaurants must close at 11 p.m., while private family gatherings will be capped at 10 people.

The country plans to deploy up to 80,000 COVID-19 tests daily – 50,000 rapid antigen tests and 30,000 of the more accurate molecular tests – to expand screening capacity stretched by rising cases.

As domestic infection rates now exceed much of Europe, the Swiss also eased quarantine requirements for incoming travellers, with only areas abroad with rates 60% higher than Switzerland affected.

Officials were seeking to minimize impacts with the package, which includes numerous exceptions including for children under 16.

“We don’t have any time to lose,” President Simonetta Sommaruga said. “The damage to the economy would be greater if we were to do nothing now.”

The new measures are indefinite.

The country will refrain for now from expanding measures to support business after concluding existing programmes are sufficient to soften the pandemic’s blow, the government said.

(Reporting by John Miller, John Revill and Brenna Hughes Neghaiwi, editing by Michael Shields and Nick Macfie)

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