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The Cover Story
To Fix for America's Broken Health Care System, We Must Rethink Who Counts as an Expert
By Elijah Wolfson
Editorial Director, TIME

The global pandemic is far from over. I'm writing this on June 9; yesterday, nearly 370,000 people worldwide were diagnosed with COVID-19, according to Johns Hopkins University data. About 10,400 people died from the illness.

On the other hand, in the U.S.—one of the worst-hit countries—all meaningful metrics (such as daily case rates, hospitalization rates, death rates) have plummeted since the widespread distribution of COVID-19 vaccines—which are, in no uncertain terms, an unprecedented scientific triumph. We are now finally able to take a breath and review the experience of the last 18 months through a slightly more clinical lens. In doing so, one thing quickly becomes clear: the U.S. health care system was broken well before COVID-19 became a household phrase.

TIME's June Health issue tackles the hard choices we'll have to make in the wake of a generational health crisis. Alice Park looks at the need for a modernized, global genetic surveillance system to avoid another pandemic of this scale. Abby Abrams writes about how long-simmering challenges to providing adequate, cost-effective care to the elderly in the U.S have risen to a boil in the last year. And Jamie Ducharme assesses how telehealth—meant to be a great equalizer for access to care—performed on its real-world test.

In addition, we polled over 70 experts, asking them to rank potential next steps to prevent a future pandemic along scales of feasibility and importance. The results offer a blueprint on what we, as a global society, should do to forestall another COVID-19-like disaster. We also asked a range of prominent thinkers—from Leana Wen to s.e. smith to Seth Berkley and more—to weigh in on what comes next as we emerge from this collective nightmare.

Immense challenges lie ahead—and so do incalculable opportunities. None of this will be easy, but there's a legitimate chance that we might emerge from this crucible as a stronger, healthier, and more equitable global society.

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