Opinion by Paul Plante
As we American people watch this incredible spectacle unfolding around us, with panic spreading and chaos looming large on the horizon as the lights of America blink out and the nation gets literally shut down, with people in San Francisco ordered to “shelter in place,” and New York City threatening to follow suit, this in response to a virus that has so far killed one hundred and eight (108) people in America out of a population of some 330 million, with some 6300 diagnosed cases as of this writing, in all likelihood we missed an article in Marketwatch entitled “Norwegian university urges students to return home from the U.S., cites ‘poorly developed health services’” by Shawn Langlois published March 15, 2020, wherein was stated as follows, to wit:
The U.S. health-care system?
The Norwegian University of Science and Technology clearly isn’t impressed, so it’s urging students studying there to come home immediately.
The university later tweaked the language in the Facebook post so as not to single out the United States, but by then, the slight emerged as a top-trending topic across social media:
“In accordance with the recommendations from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs NTNU strongly recommends that all NTNU students who are outside Norway return home,”
“This applies especially if you are staying in a country with poorly developed health services and infrastructure and/or collective infrastructure, for example, the USA.”
The U.S. health-care system has come under increased scrutiny in recent days as the coronavirus outbreak spreads across the country.
So, is the US getting a bad rap there, with Norway accusing us of being a country with poorly developed health services?
Is that unfair?
Should we institute some real serious sanctions against the Norwegians to make them real sorry they ever thought to think that way, let alone state it in public, as they have chosen to do?
Or my goodness gracious me, could it possibly be true?
Are we really living in a country with poorly developed health services as the Norwegians say?
Or is it a question of them simply not understanding or comprehending how protection of the public’s health in this country was supposed to be provided, if we didn’t have a public health protection system in this country, especially here in corrupt New York state to the north of Cape Charles, where Democratic Socialist “strongman” Young Andy Cuomo is running around in a frightful panic calling on Trump to send in the Army, that was either broken, as is the case in New York and has been since the 1970s, when Democrat Hugh Carey was governor, or badly bent?
Given that life in America has literally come to a screeching halt, and we are not really going any place, especially on a cruise right now, as a qualified associate level public health engineer knowledgeable of the history of public health, not only in America, but throughout history, going back to the Cloaca Maxima (lit. Greatest Sewer), one of the world’s earliest sewage systems constructed in Ancient Rome in order to remove the waste of one of world’s most populous cities initially constructed around 600 BC under the orders of the king of Rome, Tarquinius Priscus, I thought this a good time to delve into the serious question of who really is responsible for protecting the public’s health here in the United States of America, and it is not the federal government, as we clearly see from our own history, to wit:
Health Care: Constitutional Rights and Legislative Powers
Kathleen S. Swendiman Legislative Attorney
April 5, 2010
Congressional Research Service 7-5700 www.crs.gov R40846
The health care reform debate raises many complex issues including those of coverage, accessibility, cost, accountability, and quality of health care.
Underlying these policy considerations are issues regarding the status of health care as a constitutional or legal right.
This report analyzes constitutional and legal issues pertaining to a right to health care, as well as the power of Congress to enact and fund health care programs.
The United States Constitution does not set forth an explicit right to health care.
As a major component of many health care entitlement statutes, Congress has provided funding to pay for the health services provided under law.
Most of these statutes have been enacted pursuant to Congress’s authority to “make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper” to carry out its mandate “to … provide for the … general Welfare.”
The power to spend for the general welfare is one of the broadest grants of authority to Congress in the U.S. Constitution.
The Supreme Court accords considerable deference to a legislative decision by Congress that a particular health care spending program provides for the general welfare.
A number of state constitutions contain provisions relating to health and the provision of health care services.
State constitutions may provide constitutional rights that are more expansive than those found under the federal Constitution since federal rights set the minimum standards for the states.
And how many people in America are aware of that reality, one must wonder, especially in the wake of all this hysteria and pandemonium unleashed by these hysteria mongers like Young Andy Cuomo of New York state?
And what of the people of Virginia?
Are they aware that the Commonwealth of Virginia has its own state Board of Health, which is a 15-member independent agency that regulates health facilities in the Commonwealth of Virginia, two members of which shall be members of the Medical Society of Virginia, one member shall be a member of the Virginia Pharmaceutical Association, one member shall be a member of the State Dental Association, one member shall be a member of the Virginia Nurses’ Association, one member shall be a member of the Virginia Veterinary Medical Association, one member shall be a representative of local government, one member shall be a representative of the hospital industry, one member shall be a representative of the nursing home industry, one member shall be a representative of the licensed health carriers responsible under Title 38.2 for a managed care health insurance plan, one member shall be a corporate purchaser of health care, two members shall be consumers, one member shall have public environmental health expertise, and one member shall be a representative of the emergency medical services community recommended by the State Emergency Medical Services Advisory Board?
Are they aware that Board is the policy-making arm of the Virginia Department of Health and the law gives the Board a variety of important duties such as establishing the framework for Virginia’s public health services as well as also approving regulations for the Department of Health?
Would they know that it works, or is supposed to work if the system is not broken, with the Virginia Health Planning Board to consider issues of health care policy and financing and issues formal studies on these subject?
And of importance to this specific subject of public health protection, would they know that the Board is supposed to promote health education and outreach, for example, by setting the Department of Health’s program of patient and community health education services to include services addressing health promotion and disease prevention, and encouraging the coordination of local and private sector health education services?
As to COVID, this latest public health “threat” that seems right now overblown with reports coming in today of people in Los Angeles in long lines outside of supermarkets waiting to get in to find the shelves empty of what they need to survive, the Board has the emergency authority to issue “orders and regulations to meet any emergency, not provided for by general regulations, for the purpose of suppressing nuisances dangerous to the public health and communicable, contagious and infectious diseases and other dangers to the public life and health.”
So, have they done that?
Does anyone have a clue?