“The breathtaking downturn underscores that the health-care sector is not only crucial to saving lives, but also vital to an economic recovery”
Last month, I wrote about how the cancellation of “elective” surgeries, cancer screenings, and other important and often life-saving healthcare services is impacting the U.S. healthcare system.
The trend has continued downward since then, with more healthcare professionals losing their jobs, their practices, and their livelihoods. Additionally, the harmful impact on their now-former patients is, at this point, immeasurable.
Across the nation, medical facilities are working on skeleton staffs or being shut down, often permanently due to the extension of no longer necessary lockdowns.
Examples, tragically, abound. Here is but a recent sampling:
- Pittsburgh Business Times: “Survey: 1 in 10 Pennsylvania medical practices have closed in Covid-19 pandemic”
- South Florida Business Journal: “Mount Sinai cuts nearly 1,000 jobs due to Covid-19 losses”
- CBS News: “Thousands of physician assistants furloughed during coronavirus outbreak”
- The San Francisco Chronicle: “1 in 3 primary care doctors fears having to close practice over coronavirus”
- The Texas Tribune: “Texas doctors say their revenue has dropped by at least 50% since the pandemic, survey data shows”
Among those medical professionals particularly harmed by the lockdowns and orders that only “essential services” can be performed (i.e. those to save patients in imminent threat of death or those who are afflicted with Wuhan coronavirus), are eye and dental health care professionals.
In their article entitled, “Coronavirus threatens to permanently close doctors’ practices: ‘Uncertainty is overwhelming’,” the Washington Times reports:
Dr. Keesha Williams-Elliott had to cut her practice at her comprehensive eye care center in the District by 90% as part of a citywide shutdown on elective medical procedures during the coronavirus crisis.
Now on the verge of a reopening, the ophthalmologist worries about being able to resume business as usual.
“Until we get back to operating, my practice is going to suffer because we’re mainly a surgical practice,” Dr. Williams-Elliott said. “As things subside, my hope is that we can get elective care back on and have a backlog of patients that need surgery, cataract surgery and glaucoma surgery … and that we have a whole lot to do in a short period of time.”
Operators of dental offices, eye specialty centers, women’s health facilities and other “nonessential” medical services have had significant reductions in their workloads since stay-at-home orders were implemented two months ago.
NJ.com reports that some dental practices will never be able to reopen due to the financial toll of the lockdowns:
The financial toll has been devastating, said Dr. Tom Rossi, president of the New Jersey Dental Association, who suggested 20 percent — or about 1,200 — of the state’s dental practices may not reopen.
“The vast majority of dentists report their volume of total collections is less than 5 percent of what is typical,” said Rossi, citing American Dental Association research. “Modeling predicts that U.S. dental care spending could decline by up to 66% this year in 2020 and possibly 32% in 2021.”
“Most troubling is that dental economists are anticipating as many as 20% of the sector may close within one year as a result of this pandemic and the policies that may prohibit practitioners from operating,” he added.
The decimation of our healthcare system is likely to have a devastating impact on our economy.
Even as the coronavirus pandemic draws attention and resources to the nation’s doctors and hospitals, the health-care industry is suffering a historic collapse in business that is emerging as one of the most powerful forces hurting the U.S. economy and a threat to a potential recovery.
The widespread economic shutdown deployed to reduce transmission of the novel coronavirus hit hospitals and health-care providers with particular force as they prepared to face the pandemic.
. . . . The result was that health-care spending declined at an annualized rate of 18 percent in the first three months of the year, according to Commerce Department data released last week, the largest reduction since the government started keeping records in 1959.
And that proved the biggest factor in driving the annualized 4.8 percent decline in first-quarter gross domestic product, which itself was the worst overall contraction in GDP since the Great Recession.
. . . . The breathtaking downturn underscores that the health-care sector is not only crucial to saving lives, but also vital to an economic recovery.
Such widespread damage to our healthcare system may ultimately hamper our ability to respond to the Wuhan coronavirus itself.
An example of this was recently highlighted in the Seattle Times:
UW Medicine has been at the forefront of the battle against COVID-19 locally and globally, with an array of efforts that includes creating widely used outbreak models and processing a majority of Washington state’s diagnostic tests.
Its ability to sustain those efforts was thrown into question last week when CEO Dr. Paul Ramsey announced an unprecedented $500 million budget shortfall caused by the very pandemic the Seattle-based health system has been helping combat.
Among the ways Ramsey plans to make up for those losses: staff furloughs. On Monday, UW Medicine officials announced one- to eight-week furloughs for 1,500 professional and classified non-union staff, which includes management and administrative workers. UW Medicine has a workforce of about 30,000 people.
. . . . “The state’s economy and our ability to rebuild the economy is very tightly woven with the public health situation and people’s confidence about their safety,” Rolfes said . . . .
While the leftist elite, with its propensity for placing everything and everyone into neat and separate little baskets, likes to demonize any mention of the economy, we cannot be cowed by them for a moment longer. Keeping the economy closed is affecting everything we, as Americans, hold dear: our healthcare system and freedoms are high on that list.DONATE
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