Episode 156
Mar 24, 2020

The U.S. health care system is bracing for COVID-19

As Kai says, we have a lot of pre-existing conditions, here.

America’s heath care system isn’t prepared for the wave of COVID-19 patients to come, according to Sarah Kliff, an investigative reporter with the New York Times.

Our nation’s fragmented system of hospital groups, insurers and equipment manufacturers means we are at a disadvantage compared to other countries with more centralized health care, Kliff said.

Experts were worried about hospitals’ capacity to care for waves of COVID-19 patients even before President Trump and his allies floated the reopening of the economy by next month, which could make containment of the virus even more challenging.

We talked a bit about N95 masks on yesterday’s shorter daily podcast. Kliff, who covers health care for the Times, joins us to go deep on personal protective equipment, the Defense Production Act and just how Obamacare fits into the coronavirus scenario.

The Affordable Care Act just turned 10 this week, and it’s about to get a serious test in the first recession since its passage. We’ll also dig into the supply chains for, say, nasal swabs for testing. They’re largely manufactured in northern Italy. In the U.S., there’s one Washington ventilator manufacturer doing temperature checks on employees.

“The last thing you’d want is an outbreak of coronavirus among ventilators manufacturing workers,” Kliff said.

Later, we’ll try to reframe the discourse about whether seniors need to risk infection for the stock market to bounce back. Plus, we hear from someone who survived COVID-19, and a listener who manages purchasing for grocery stores. Don’t hoard, people.

Have we mentioned we’re doing daily podcasts now? When you’re done listening, you can also tell your Echo device to “make me smart” for our Alexa explainers. This week: social distancing, supply shock and video conferencing. Finally, don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter! Here’s the latest issue if you missed it.

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The team

Molly Wood Host
Jody Becker Interim Senior Producer
Tony Wagner Digital Producer
Sam Anderson Associate Producer