Meme’s in Your Head: Why You Mad Tho? The Struggle to Develop Universal Health Care Policy, 1912 – 2009
Guest Blogger: theangryliberal
There have been six times in the past to deliver major legislation restructuring of the provision of hospital and medical services: 1913- 17, 1937-39, 1943-46, 1964-65, 1969-75 and 1993-94. Each previous attempt collapsed usually generating a series of legislation crafted to assuage the legislators who fought so hard ultimately to achieve so little (Danielson and Mazer 161). In 2009, after nearly 100 years, Democrats with Nancy Pelosi in the lead, took that ball and finally passed legislation that would guarantee access to health care. The rest is history, but it did not come without a fight. No doubt, every time the efforts failed, more policy was developed and negotiated for the inevitable, because it was inevitable that some form of Universal Coverage would pass Congress and be signed by a President from the Democratic Party.
To be perfectly honest, there was no public option in the policy that was eventually developed and finally passed through congress some parts have already been implemented and other parts are waiting for funding in this fiscal year. Although I had been somewhat involved in Comprehensive Health Care Policy research at our local committee level for this blog I thought some extra research would be in order. I ran across an interesting excerpt of a column originally published in the Washington Post by Don Coburn one of their staff writers. I found the excerpt in the British Medical Journal Summer, 1986, and lo and behold, I found a copy of this on-line at the National Institute of Health.
This is the first universal health insurance plan in the United States, and Governor Dukakis hails it as a model for the whole country. “Forty years after Harry Truman first proposed it we are finally on the road to basic health security for the citizens of this state,” he said. “It’s something which is long overdue for Massachusetts and long overdue for the country.’
However, the real issue before us is in understanding how we got to today, and taking some personal responsibility for the failures of the past, and some joy in the huge accomplishment of 2009. Because, in all honesty, we should have some pride in finally being able to move on from those who continue to say this will destroy us, to defending the bill, and keeping Republicans from further demonizing what is a huge accomplishments by Democrats in office. My particular thanks to Nancy Pelosi and her deft handling of her caucuses to get this bill passed. She ultimately will go down in history as one of the greatest speakers of all time. There is an excellent interactive time line of the history of Health Reform in America at the NY Times.
- 1912 – Teddy Roosevelt campaigns on a National Health Insurance policy, Great Britain passed such a policy in 1911, and many European nations had such policies, the earliest being Germany they passed a national health insurance policy in 1883. The debate in America went on until 1917.
- 1937 – 38 The New Deal omitted plans for a national health insurance program in 1934, although it was included in the original discussion and planning for implementing New Deal Programs. What happened in 1934? By 1938 it began to push a National Health Insurance Program. Again, it failed. There were many forces against this new plan, but in the forefront were doctors who opposed national health insurance.
- 1948 – Harry Truman includes a national health insurance program in the platform of his election campaign and it stays in the Democrat Party platform. Back then the AMA opposed a national insurance program, and claimed we were heading towards socialized medicine, the same tired argument employed by conservatives today. Essentially this is where the hard fight began.