Many communities around the country are already reporting finding West Nile virus in mosquito samples. A man in Arizona is suffering from West Nile virus-related paralysis with his legs along with problems paying his medical and rehabilitation bills, even with health insurance.
Few communities in the United States have started testing their mosquito samples for the Zika virus, and none seems to have reported finding a mosquito carrying the virus.
Outbreaks are unpredictable, and it could be that the Zika microbes will shake their viral envelope molecules sadly when they look at the United States, turn around, and go back to Brazil, all on their own.
But the idea that members of Congress could leave for the campaign trail, or vacation, in a few weeks, and that President Obama could go about his normal life without having signed some kind of Zika response funding measure, is unacceptable.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has been using about $600 million in Ebola response money to cover the cost of helping communities control the types of mosquitoes that could spread Zika.
Apparently, Congress is still trying to get Obama to sign a bill that would package $1.1 billion in Zika funding with a $543 million cut in Affordable Care Act funding and keep Planned Parenthood from offering birth control services related to Zika. Another provision under consideration could allow or block efforts to fly the Confederate flags in veterans’ cemeteries.
Maybe congressional leaders can make a reasonable case for putting the Planned Parenthood provision in the bill. At least that has something to do with obstetric care.
It’s possible that a good forensic accountant can show how the Obama administration has exaggerated Zika response funding needs, and that the administration should have asked for less cash.
But what does Affordable Care Act funding have to do with preventing a disease that can ruin babies’ lives, lead to millions of dollars in medical and long-term care costs for babies born with Zika-related disabilities, and, possibly, lead to permanent paralysis in some adults?