Monday, July 13, 2009

Health Care Plans Again

I am sorry but this is a long one.

Historically health care plans seemed doomed to fail. Will they again? I researched some history of previous attempts. I learned that no matter which period of time, or which party, the arguments against the plans sure sound similar. The arguments for health care plans are similar. It is just that as time progressed the costs and the problems grew. So put it off again and let's talk about the costs to our kids and grandkids.

"When on July 30, 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed Medicare into law at the Harry S. Truman library, he said that it "all started really with the man from Independence".**

*Poen, Monte M.,"National Health Insurance", in The Harry S. Truman Encyclopedia, ed. Richard S. Kirkendall (Boston: G.K. Hall & Co, 1989): 251

The above website is excellent for research on former President Truman's views and ideas on health care in the U.S.

Here is the similar health care plan:

The most controversial aspect of the plan was the proposed national health insurance plan. In the November 19th address, President Truman called for the creation of a national health insurance fund, to be run by the federal government. This fund would be open to all Americans, but would remain optional. Participants would pay monthly fees into the plan, which would cover the cost of any and all medical expenses that arose in a time of need. The government would pay for the cost of services rendered by any doctor who chose to join the program. In addition, the insurance plan would give a cash balance to the policy holder to replace wages lost due to illness or injury.”

Here is the similar argument against it. Just not the communist part. Now it is the we don't want to be European stuff.

...The American Medical Association (AMA) launched a spirited attack against the bill, capitalizing on fears of Communism in the public mind. The AMA characterized the bill as "socialized medicine", and in a forerunner to the rhetoric of the McCarthy era, called Truman White House staffers "followers of the Moscow party line".* Organized labor, the main public advocate of the bill, had lost much of it's goodwill from the American people in a series of unpopular strikes. Following the outbreak of the Korean War, President Truman was finally forced to abandon the W-M-D Bill.” (same site)

Another piece of history:

...Going as far back as pre-Revolutionary War America, virtually the only support for primary care services to the poor in the United States came via local government in the form of either payments to private physicians or the hiring of a nurse or part-time physician within the local public health department.”

Article: the AMA Faces Down FDR and Wins Physician Executive, Jan-Feb, 1993 by Norbert Goldfield

found here

Very good articles from Norbert Goldfield on health care. I recommend you read them all. In another I found this synopsis on Eisenhower's plan.

In particular, Eisenhower recommended the "establishment of a limited federal reinsurance service to encourage private and not-for-profit health insurance organizations to offer broader health protection to more families.

...It indicates why the President of the AMA warned in his annual address to the House of Delegates that "our economic problems are not solved....As a matter of fact, these problems have increased. The socialistic trend and government intrusion into the business and affairs of the people have shown little evidence of change. The greatest battle for the preservation of democracy is yet to come.

For another, easier way to follow basic history of attempts to have any kind of health care insurance whether government or the business sector try this site:

I refer again to Norbert Goldfield writing in another history of health care article in 1992. On Nixon's attempt to reform health care:

Nixon's proposal, Family Health Insurance Plan (FHIP), called for a subsidized program for basic private insurance for low-income families and for all employers to provide private health insurance for employees and dependents. Nixon's employer mandate proposal may sound familiar, as it is very similar to Senator Edward Kennedy's current legislative proposal. When asked about this odd juxtaposition, Kennedy stated that he simply wants some form of health care legislation enacted into law.”

According to Mr. Goldfield's historical health care articles Nixon actually left much of his domestic policy to others as he felt foreign affairs were his strong suit.

The same old socialized medicine arguments came up along with others.

Health care became an issue for Reagan by the time he ran for President. Read debates with Pres. Carter for some. He was at one time hired to read a script for the AMA against Medicare and Medicaid. President Reagan did make cuts to the Carter health care budget. I found that somewhere. President Reagan is hard to research-his acting gets in the way.

So now I think I see that no matter how much the “middle-class” wants health care for all and is even willing to pay for it not much gets done. Mr. Goldfield discusses the reasons using the book, Thinking in Time; the Uses of History for Decision makers, by Richard Neustadt and Ernest May. Go to the 1992 article on Nixon and health care to get an overview of some of the book and the theories and recommendations.

The way I see it this is like putting off so many things. Maybe like not weatherproofing or not putting in a new furnace. I could go on but let's use the example of a needing a new roof for a house for many years.

If you had done it when you first knew there was a problem (let's say 15 yrs.) it would have cost $6000 for the whole roof. You were probably better able to afford it then. Now, it will cost $6000 for ½ of the roof and the $6000 is very hard to come by. At least it would be for me. In the meantime, you lived with leaks and a yearly do it yourself sort-of fix. A ceiling may be partially ruined and you probably have mold hiding somewhere.

If you still don't fix it, your investment is going to drop even more than it has and your kid, the one that inherits, is at best ending up with less. At best he/she will end up spending more money than they can get back.

How is that for a scenario of “put off 'till tomorrow what you could do today” and the costs. So think about that scenario when you hear about the costs to future generations. And remember the “socialist” argument has been around forever in one flavor or another. It used to be called communistic now that isn't useful so it is just the dreaded socialism. And costs go up and profits go up and fewer people get health care.

Your insurance company, if you have one, is already telling you and your doctor what procedures you can or can not have. Sometimes you are the one paying them to tell you. The drug insurance, if you have it, is telling you and your doctor what drugs you must “try” first before you can take what you and your doctor have decided is the best for your body. Your doctor, if he or she is a decent one, is putting up with insurance companies not paying them for weeks. Your doctor, if he or she is not so decent, is charging more to make up for that and more. If you live in a rural or outlying area you don't always have good access to health care because there aren't enough of you to make it pay or you don't have the facilities and equipment.


  1. Great stuff! When if ever will we Americans wake up and see the obvious.

    It is amazing to see how long we Americans have mindlessly allowed ourselves to be manipulated by corporations and vested interest over and over while our quality of healthcare sank to 30'Th. among the industrialized nations of the world. All while our cost soared to TWICE as much as those socialist, Communist countries like Germany, Sweden, England, France Canada... with their monstrous "socialized medicine" - if you are lucky enough to even have healthcare.

    After all, what thoughtful real American would trust some government bureaucrat to control their healthcare when they can have some corporate bureaucrat getting bonuses to maximize profits at any cost control their healthcare choices for them? Duh!

    If you missed the Bill Moyers program last Sunday "Profits before Patients" you missed the real story of what, how and why our healthcare situation in this country sunk from #1 to being a national disgrace unless you are a fortunate privileged few.

    "With almost 20 years inside the health insurance industry, Wendell Potter saw for-profit insurers hijack our health care system and put profits before patients. Now, he speaks with Bill Moyers about how those companies are standing in the way of health care reform. And, a Bill Moyers Essay." You can see the program here:

    Also this chart you reference is fascinating:

  2. thanks for the comment and information.
    yes, I saw the Moyers interview.
    Wendell Potter's testimony before Congress can be found at the http// site though you will then have to search. I used Wendell Potter testimony as the search.
    I believe the testimony was June 24 of this year.

  3. I have enjoyed reading this post (I have not touched the links yet). I should wait till I have read it all more in depth, but I just wanted to let you know I have read and learned. I knew this was an old issue but I did not know who was involved in past battles. Nixon's position surprised me, though I know he did some controversial things especially during the fuel crises. Thank you for writing this and I think there is no apology necessary due to length.

  4. Thomas thanks for the comment.
    I found so much it was unreal.
    the links may be cumbersome to use.
    The articles mention, by Goldfield are worth finding though. If you go to the site then search for N. Goldfield I believe you will find the history of health care articles among others by him.
    For a very short graphic the PBS link is a good one.
    Really-the arguements for and against follow patterns. It is amazing. Makes me feel the public is getting the run-around on something so important over and over.

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