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Among her comments, the New York Democrat questioned whether the U.S. has the best health care system in the world and asserted that the “wealthy and powerful” might be getting quicker access to coronavirus testing in the U.S. than average Americans.
Her remarks came as the far-left progressive lawmaker continues to campaign for presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who advocates for Medicare-for-All, a proposed taxpayer-backed system that would replace private insurance for millions of Americans.
“That’s something that’s up for debate,” Ocasio-Cortez told Fox News’ Bret Baier, as she discussed whether the current U.S. system offered the best health care possible.
She claimed South Korea was conducting “up to 10,000 tests per day” for its citizens amid the outbreak of the virus also known as COVID-19, while U.S. testing lagged behind.
“They’ve been able to provide tests to any single person that wants it – and here [in the U.S.] people are scrambling,” she said. “It almost seems like the more wealthy and powerful you are, the more able you are to access a test.”
Ocasio-Cortez provided no evidence for her claim regarding the “wealthy and powerful” receiving preferential treatment, but more NBA players and support staff were reportedly tested, or scheduled for testing, after two Utah Jazz teammates were revealed to have previously tested positive for the virus.
The Toronto Raptors said their players and staff had undergone tests and were awaiting results, while the Oklahoma City Thunder said their players would be tested soon, ESPN reported, adding that players from two other teams would have players and staff in self-isolation for now.
Although figures from U.S. government agencies show the nation has been conducting fewer tests than South Korea – which has about one-sixth the U.S. population — Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar assured lawmakers Thursday that U.S. labs’ capacity could reach tests for 10,000-20,000 people per day by the end of this week.
Meanwhile on Capitol Hill, comments by Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health – a member of President Trump’s Coronavirus Task Force – appeared to align with Ocasio-Cortez’s statements on Fox News that the U.S. lagged behind other nations in testing its citizens.
“The system is not really geared to what we need right now, what you are asking,” Fauci told a House panel Thursday. “That is a failing. A failing. It is a failing. Let’s admit it.
“The fact is, the way the system was set up is that the public health component … was a system where you put it out there in the public and the physician asks for it and you get it.
“The idea of anybody getting it easily, the way people in other countries are doing it, we’re not set up for that,” he continued. “Do I think we should be? Yes, but we’re not.”