Health Care Reform History Lesson

Here’s an interesting editorial from the Charleston (WV) Gazette on the history of attempts to bring universal health care to the United States. For fuller details, see the article “Health Care Reform and Social Movements in the United States” by Beatrice Hoffman in the January 2003 issue of The American Journal of Public Health.

Universal health care has usually been a “liberal” or “progressive” issue; the first attempt cited by the Gazette editorial was a plank in Theodore Roosevelt’s presidential campaign in 1912, and most major attempts since then have been proposed by progressives of one sort or another. But the attempt I find most intriguing was proposed in 1974 by the famous socialist Richard Nixon (see this Wikipedia article for more details). It is notable that as early as 1947 Nixon, then a member of Congress from California, recognized that the US health system had serious problems, and that his concern continued into his presidency in the 1970s.

The problems with US health care are not new. They have been described by both conservatives and liberals for well over half a century, and both conservatives and liberals have proposed ways to fix them. So, why do we need a “trigger”?


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