Decades of understaffing have led to a situation in which there are not nearly enough nurses to care for a burgeoning population of the ill (to say nothing of protective equipment for those nurses, and hospital beds for those that are ill).The lack of a single-payer and public hospital system is glaringly apparent.
Meanwhile caregivers for children and the elderly are on the frontlines of the crisis. Essential workers lack the means to afford necessary childcare, while most caregivers are out of work for the near future. Home health care aides lack most job protections, and are among the greatest risk of . Our lack of a system for long-term elder care with an aging population is also glaringly apparent.
Nikil and Rick support the following immediate measures:
SUSPEND MEDICAL DEBT: The Pennsylvania Attorney General should move aggressively to suspend all medical debt for the duration of the crisis and the recovery. No one should be burdened with medical bills during this—or any—period. All treatment for COVID-19 should be delivered free of cost.
ESTABLISH PAID CARE LEAVE: We should immediately institute a paid care leave plan of twelve weeks in Pennsylvania. This plan should guarantee 100% of earnings for all workers making 70% or less of the state average weekly wage (SAWW).
PRODUCE PRODUCTIVE EQUIPMENT: In lieu of the Federal Government acting on the Defense Production Act, the Governor should use emergency powers to coordinate with other states to coordinate immediate production of protective equipment for all essential workers.
PUBLIC CONTROL OF HOSPITALS AND HEALTHCARE FACILITIES: The Governor should move to take control of any private hospitals and other facilities in order to facilitate care, and re-open recently closed facilities, such as Hahnemann Hospital, as necessary.
EXPAND CHILD CARE RESOURCES: Most workers lack access to affordable childcare, and essential workers are affected gravely by the high cost of care. Pennsylvania should ensure that all childcare costs faced by essential workers are covered by the state.