We need to be smart about how we use public resources to respond to the coronavirus outbreak. Two major crises are facing the country right now: 1) the negative health impact and associated deaths from the virus, and 2) the enormous economic impact of large numbers of businesses and schools shutting down.
Congress needs to wisely allocate public resources to address both and not be distracted by long-held ideological pursuits. Many people are providing advice on how to best help businesses and workers weather the storm. For health care, it is crucial to recognize that this is a public health crisis and not an issue of longer-term health financing or coverage.
State and federal laws and regulations are hindering the private sector’s efforts to help fight the outbreak.
Effectively responding to the coronavirus epidemic requires innovation from private companies, medical professionals, and entrepreneurs. These folks are ready to perform heroic acts, but government rules and red tape are getting in their way. To take one tragic example, it appears that problems at the Centers for Disease Control led to early delays in testing and unreliable tests.
We must untangle this red tape to save lives. Hospitals and medical facilities in hotspots already are overwhelmed with patients, and the demands placed on them will only increase in the coming months. They need to rapidly expand capacity now to avoid being forced to ration care, as we already see happening in Italy, later.