Mainstream media has steadfastly refused to cover actions by President Trump that have helped alleviate the COVID-19 crisis, instead choosing to perpetuate false claims like “the President called the coronavirus a ‘hoax'” and “the President wants everyone back to life and work as normal on Easter, because the economy is more important to him than your grandmother.”
So it should be no surprise the media is failing to cover two huge actions the President has taken in the last week dramatically to improve America’s ability to respond to the coronavirus crisis. Hands up if you’ve heard about either of these things literally anywhere other than right here.
Both of these concern a George H. W. Bush-era federal drug discount program called 340B that enables patients to get drugs more cheaply, and keep hospitals serving Medicaid and Medicare-reliant populations, especially in rural areas, open.
First of all, federal law requires those hospitals to get the government’s permission before they can use a group purchasing organization to get the drugs they need, even in a crisis like this when drug shortages and high drug prices are real issues.
Last week, the Trump administration lifted these requirements for the duration of the crisis. They did it in a barely noticeable way, using totally incomprehensible language, but they did do it. And it will matter for public health in this trying time.
Also last week, President Trump signed into law the latest coronavirus stimulus bill.
There are a lot of problems with this bill, but one good thing in it was an amendment by Sen. Ben Sasse to lift the requirement that these same hospitals have to spent valuable time and energy on completing “audit” paperwork instead of getting people well again.
That proposal is now law, because President Trump signed it into law.
Both of these things may look like “small ball” policies, and they may not be things the President stayed up nights personally formulating and writing up.
Nonetheless, he got them done. And even the health care “press,” such as it is, isn’t writing about them.
President Trump has not handled this crisis perfectly. He has made many mistakes. He will undoubtedly make many more.
But the media is also making mistakes and allowing its bias – political and against “deep dive” reporting – to get in the way of its duty to inform Americans about what is going on.
These are just two cases in point from the past week, and there will be more as this situation plays out.
UPDATE: Before final passage of the bill, Sen. Sasse’s amendment was apparently withdrawn, meaning it did not make it into the bill signed into law by President Trump.
The background surrounding this is not clear, but it appears likely that health care providers will continue to argue for its inclusion in future legislation. Complying with audit requirements is expected to detract from pharmacists’ ability to focus on dispensing medication needed for COVID-19 patients to fight the virus and related symptoms like pneumonia.
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