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Ross: Running health care like a business works well, until it doesn’t

Coronavirus testing continues to ramp up. (Greater Seattle Coronavirus Assessment Network)

Reporters keep trying get the President to admit he didn’t shut things down soon enough. But even if he had ordered all of us to stay home in January, would we have done it?

I’m guessing that, like the President, most people didn’t believe this was real until they saw those infection forecasts.

Early testing might have convinced us sooner, but we couldn’t test then, and we’re still having trouble now.

“Yeah, right now we’re still dealing with a shortage of the swabs and the part of the kits right there at the front lines when the swab goes up the nose,” said Dr. Keith Jerome.

Dr. Jerome runs the University of Washington Virology lab, which has been right in the center of this. He’s got the machines, he’s got the staff, he just has no way to take enough samples.

It turns out well-intentioned hospital managers have learned to be super-efficient, only ordering exactly what they need, and buying from the cheapest suppliers. But as a result, those crucial swabs have to come from China.

“Unfortunately, we just have sort of outsourced a lot of capacity to make simple things in this country, and I think we probably feel a little bit silly that we can’t make such a simple thing,” he noted.

The lesson here is that running health care like a business works really well until it doesn’t. And then, your attempt to save a little money ends up costing $6 trillion.

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