“The Unwinding”

Death Panel”, a podcast about the political economy of health, presents an acute critical analysis of the dual news of the upcoming Medicaid Redetermination starting on April 1, 2023, and the end of the COVID-19 public health emergency on May 11, 2023.

The hosts examine the fact of disbandment of the White House Covid response team and its underlying logic, illustrated in such public statements as the one by a senior administration official in an interview with the Washington Post:

“As a result of this administration’s historic response to COVID-19, we as a nation are in a safer, better place than we were three years ago. COVID no longer disrupts our lives because of investments and our efforts to mitigate its worst impacts. COVID is not over, fighting it remains an administration priority, and transitioning out of the emergency phase is the natural evolution of the COVID response.”

Another thing the hosts are discussing is the end of one of the “big expansions of the welfare state” enacted against the pandemic — a provision that Medicaid programs keep people continuously enrolled through the end of the COVID-19 public health emergency.
The end of the continuous enrollment on March 31, 2023, according to the hosts’ statistics, will lead to 14.7 million adults, and 7.3 million people under the age of 18 losing their health insurance within about a year. This is compared with the fact that thanks to the continuous enrollment measures, in February 2023, the rate of uninsured people in the United States shrunk to 8%, a historic low.

The hosts call it an absurd political catastrophe, but also something to be expected in the overall murderous economy of the US healthcare system. Instead of turning the heightened federal funding of Medicaid and simplified procedure for maintaining one’s Medicaid status into a new norm, the government undoes this change and makes people go through the highly competitive and bureaucratically complex rationing of Medicaid resources over and over again.

“You’ve got this huge-scale event… What is about to happen in the United States may be one of the most significant things to happen in the last 20 years. At least. In terms of coverage gains or losses. And the losses will mean people go without care, some people die, some people don’t get really important medical treatment, so their health worsens.”

—Sasha Kurlenkova