On Saturday, an anxious nation finally learned that Joe Biden was declared the winner of the 2020 presidential election over President Donald Trump. Acknowledging the country’s divisions, during his victory speech, President-elect Biden pledged “to be a president who seeks not to divide but unify, who doesn’t see red states and blue states, only sees the United States.”
Now the hard work begins. Looking ahead, our nation’s elected leaders across government face monumental challenges, including the need to address the pandemic, systemic racism, the economic crisis, and building a more robust health care system. Finding common ground and driving impactful action amid political divisions will require empathy, open minds, listening, and ultimately smart solutions.
We remain a divided country. With President-elect Joe Biden in the White House, a narrower House Democratic majority, and a closely divided Senate (even as party control of the Senate will be decided January 5th in two Georgia special elections), the future of the nation’s health system remains uncertain. Exit polling from the election showed a sharp partisan split between Biden and Trump voters over whether “the pandemic or economic crisis mattered more.” Moreover, even the way fellow Americans experience our current health and economic situations diverge as a significant number of people do not see the interconnections between health care, COVID-19, racial inequality, and our economic crisis. Instead, these are viewed as separate issues with different urgency levels, depending on people’s experiences, local circumstances, demographics, and political views.
COVID-19 is surging faster than ever. Not to be lost amid all the election news is the sobering reminder that, right now, our country faces more cases, hospitalizations, and deaths from COVID-19 than ever before. As of today, more than 10 million people in the US have been infected with COVID-19, and 238,000 more have died. This past week we’ve seen an average of 111,175 cases per day, an increase of 59 percent from the average two weeks earlier. Experts predict that, at this pace, 370,000 Americans will die from COVID-19 by Inauguration Day in January 2021. Meanwhile, throughout the country, our health care system continues to be pushed to its limit.
Time to get to work and unite around health care that meets people’s needs. At USofCare, our mission is to ensure that every person has access to quality, affordable health care regardless of health status, social need, or income. We seek to place people at the center of health care reform by redefining the issue in human, not political terms and supporting a positive, practical, and lasting people-centered approach.
The question I asked before the election bears repeating: “How do we save as many lives as possible during the pandemic? At the same time, how do we bring people together to build a system in this country that ensures all people have access to high-quality, affordable care?”
If our nation and its leaders are to unite after such a tumultuous 2020 to achieve policies that meet people’s needs – including a health care system that emerges stronger and more equitable in the wake of the pandemic – then we must:
- Listen to people to find common needs and values and identify inequities to drive change.
- Change the national conversation to create a new narrative that centers on people’s shared and diverse needs
- Identify durable policies that address people’s needs and won’t be overturned with every election.
- Advocate for and enact policy changes at the state and federal levels, building momentum for national reforms that meet people’s needs
Let’s get to work, America.