I had a dental appointment this week. Thanks to the Covid-19 it was my first visit in 2 years. I do not like to put so much space between dental visits. I go to the U of Iowa Dental School. One would think that being a public institution set up for public health that the good folks at the Dental School would be tops in Covid-19 preventative measures.
Well boy, was I ever surprised when I went to make an appointment. I asked a simple question that has to be on the mind of everyone who is about to access any kind of health care – Will my provider be vaccinated? I thought this was a fairly straight forward question. And I expected a fairly straight forward answer. I was told that that information can not be given out.
So now I am in the position of possibly risking getting a virus that may kill me or continuing to postpone needed care. I chose to make the appointment, but not before a few calls to the Dental School and several choice words with their public liaison. While I understand there are privacy rules, this seemed over the top. Why could there not have been some indication that the providers were vaccinated.
Since probably a large portion of the Dental Schools patients have their dental care paid by some federal agency, I would guess that the School would come under the guidelines that President Biden set out several months ago that health facilities that get payments from federal programs will have a mandatory vaccination.
Monday a federal judge in Louisiana stopped the administration’s mandate for now. No doubt this came as good news to Covid Kim. Not sure if this was the case she had our state join in. It did accomplish what she wanted however. While the public good should be the goal of governmental leaders, since Trump was installed as president, disruption has been Republican leadership goal.
A decision such as this will certainly cause disruption. While the governor will claim this is a victory for freedom, I think most of us would call bullshit on this premise. There is nothing in any constitution or other official document that allows people to cause other people suffering. Most of our laws are based on stopping people from causing pain, damage and bodily harm to others.
Thom Hartmann in his daily newsletter reminds us that SCOTUS addressed this very issue in 1905:
This (not getting vaccinated – ed.), the Court ruled, was a patent absurdity.
“But the liberty secured by the Constitution of the United States to every person within its jurisdiction,” the majority wrote in the very next sentence, “does not import an absolute right in each person to be, at all times and in all circumstances, wholly freed from restraint. There are manifold restraints to which every person is necessarily subject for the common good. On any other basis, organized society could not exist with safety to its members.
“Society based on the rule that each one is a law unto himself would soon be confronted with disorder and anarchy. Real liberty for all could not exist under the operation of a principle which recognizes the right of each individual person to use his own, whether in respect of his person or his property, regardless of the injury that may be done to others. …
“Upon the principle of self-defense, of paramount necessity, a community has the right to protect itself against an epidemic of disease which threatens the safety of its members.”
Being a health care worker with a highly transmissible and possibly deadly disease working in an environment where people are extremely vulnerable sounds to me like the very definition of what should be a crime. Yet our governor supports keeping our system disrupted by allowing providers who potentially have a deadly virus to work around the often vulnerable customers of the health care system.
I would hope most of us would think that the very least requirement that a worker in a public health care system must show is that they are vaccinated against highly contagious diseases. Without that, public health care systems become public spreader systems.
What this does accomplish is to disrupt centuries of work to instill trust in our public systems. As this distrust spreads private business may fill the void. Such a vacuum fill will be a poor substitute, since the private businesses will be much less reliable and less available to the poor.
Just to add to the disruption Reynolds is causing, let’s take a look at the concept of paying unemployment insurance to those who voluntarily leave their jobs rather than get a covid vaccination as their jobs required. This was originated here in Iowa. Back in the old days – a couple of weeks ago – someone who left their jobs for failure to follow orders would be laughed at if they tried to get UI when they purposely left their jobs.
But it is so important to Reynolds and her band of disruptors that the unvaccinated be kept unvaccinated that they will pay them with our money. As long as a large chunk of society stays unvaccinated, it will affect the economy by keeping people home away from stores. Most political students believe as the economy goes, so goes the election. Keeping a high level of unvaccinated will keep the virus spreading and mutating will be a damper on the economy. So Republican governors therefore will pay unvaccinated with our money.
Here is a synopsis on the state of Unemployment Insurance for the unvaccinated from slate.com:
On Oct. 20, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds announced a crackdown on unemployment benefits. She required recipients to double their job-search activity, and she imposed strict audits—with the threat of cutting off payments to anyone who fell short—to ensure that “no Iowan who is receiving unemployment benefits unnecessarily remains on the sidelines” of the job market.
Nine days later, however, Reynolds signed legislation that pays vaccine refusers to do just that: sit on the sidelines. Under the new law, anyone “discharged from employment for refusing to receive a vaccination against COVID-19 … shall not be disqualified for benefits.”
Reynolds is one of many Republican politicians who openly advocate, and in some states have successfully imposed, a two-tiered system of unemployment insurance. It’s not a left-wing policy of money for everyone or a right-wing policy of money for no one. It’s a policy of pernicious hypocrisy: welfare for vaccine refusers, tough love for everyone else.
Under these new laws, any worker who gets fired for broadly defined “misconduct,” such as flunking an employer-imposed drug test, is disqualified from unemployment benefits—but employees who refuse COVID vaccination are glorified, protected, and subsidized. The state must guarantee, in Reynolds’ words, that these reckless freeloaders “will still receive unemployment benefits despite being fired for standing up for their beliefs.”
The GOP’s coddling of vaccine refusers makes a joke of its rhetoric about self-reliance. This summer, for instance, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee ended the federal government’s supplemental COVID-era unemployment benefits. “We are paying people to stay home. That needs to change,” he declared. But two weeks ago, Lee signed legislation that pays vaccine refusers to stay home. Under Tennessee’s new policy, the state’s normal rule about employees fired for “misconduct”—that they lose their eligibility for unemployment benefits—can no longer be applied to anyone who is terminated for “refusing to receive a vaccination for COVID-19.”
I sure hope our press is ready with tons of questions and follow ups next year when Covid Kim stands for re-election. It is long past time that she be held accountable for her policies that have kept Iowa near the top of Covid cases and Covid deaths.
By coincidence, I had very-badly-needed dental work this past week. I was underwhelmed by the percentage of staffers and patients wearing masks at the dental office. But that’s Iowa now. People do whatever they want. I hope I didn’t pick up covid at the dental office, and because I’ve had three jabs, I hope and assume the odds are in my favor. But I personally know several people who have had breakthrough cases, so I’m glad my will is up to date. And I’ll keep cutting my hair at home no matter how bad it looks.