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An Infectious Disease Expert Argues for ACA During COVID-19

Brad Spellberg, MD, emphasizes his belief the Affordable Care Act needs to be retained so as long as the pandemic persists.

The topic of US healthcare coverage is gaining steam in recent weeks for no fewer than 3 circumstances occurring all at once: the Presidential election this November, the pending nomination of a new Supreme Court justice, and of course, the ongoing coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

Opinions vary on the US’ role in providing healthcare insurance options to citizens, and much scrutiny has been raised by clinicians and experts on the totality of healthcare spending relative to actual patient outcomes in the US. While the ideas of retention versus amendment have long-term implications, today’s perspective is focused on the recent issues presented by COVID-19.

In an interview with Contagion®, Brad Spellberg, MD, chief medical officer of the Los Angeles County and University of Southern California Medical Center, shared his personal concerns with discussion around potentially amending or removing the Affordable Care Act (ACA). By his count, its removal could result in a national uninsured rate increase of nearly 70%.

“In the middle of a global pandemic is not the time to be removing healthcare access for people,” Spellberg said.

Removing access for that many Americans could compromise their access to, or interest in, COVID-19 testing, he explained. From there, they could be susceptible to worsened outcomes with virus and a greater risk of transmitting the virus in their community.

Spellberg also touched on the vitality of a healthcare “safety net” like ACA for the same US population that generally comprises the “essential worker” population during COVID-19. In his eyes, a major reform would detriment the country’s public health and economic status further.

“The more we strip healthcare access away from these people, the more the pandemic will be fed, the more cases will spike, the more the economy will suffer,” he said.