For those of us inclined to pay close attention to the Trump administration, this aspect in particular stands out: the undoing of all varieties of federal regulation. Environmental, banking, consumer and health regulations have been targeted for extinction or reduction. In the words of former Trump advisor Steve Bannon, “Our job is the deconstruction of the administrative state.”
Deconstructing important parts of the “administrative state” increases the threats to our health and safety, with loss of life an all-too-common outcome.
Shortly after President Trump was inaugurated, he issued an executive order directing federal agencies to use their administrative powers to begin dismantling the Affordable Care Act “to the maximum extent permitted by law.”
Last July, the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, or CMS, proposed a reversal of Obama-era rules that aimed to protect nursing home patients by requiring all nursing home facilities to hire at least one full-time specialist in infection control. Seema Verma, the CMS administrator and a presence at President Trump’s daily coronavirus briefings, expressed concern about not “micromanaging the process.”
It should come as no surprise to learn that a nursing home lobbying group has contributed to the Trump campaign (New York Times, “Regulator Intends to Relax Oversight In Nursing Homes,” March 16, 2020).
The first novel coronavirus hotspot in the United States occurred at the Kirkland Life Care Center for the elderly in Washington State. In neighboring New Jersey, COVID-19 is running through St. Joseph’s Senior Home in Woodbridge Township. And, closer to home, Peconic Landing, an elderly community on the North Fork, is experiencing a heartbreaking toll of infected COVID-19 patients.
Is there a direct cause-effect relationship between regulatory rollback and any one positive COVID-19 case? No, but having a full-time infection control specialist knowledgeable about the science of infectious disease and vector control would have established policy and protocol ready to take the most efficacious approach to life-saving measures.
Mr. Anthony is a former Southampton Town Democratic Committee chairman — Ed.
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