Monday, November 9, 2009

Health Care Reform -- A Letter to the Editor

If past American presidents had a vantage point from which they could watch the events of last Saturday, November 7, the House passage of the Health Care Bill, H.R. 3200, several would have breathed a sigh of relief:

Teddy Roosevelt, in 1912, made health care one of the planks of his campaign. It stated, "We pledge ourselves to work unceasingly in State and Nation for ... the protection of home life against the hazards of sickness, irregular employment and old age through the adoption of a system of social insurance adapted to American use." (www.politifact.com)

Franklin Roosevelt, after passing the Social Security Act in 1935, believed that health care should be provided for Americans as well. In 1938, an advisory board appointed by him issued a report revealingly entitled, "The Need For a National Health Program." (www.ssa.gov)

On November 19, 1945, only 7 months into his presidency, Harry S. Truman sent a Presidential message to the United States Congress proposing a new national health care program. In his message, Truman argued that the federal government should play a role in health care, and stated, "The health of American children, like their education, should be recognized as a definite public responsibility." (www.trumanlibrary.org)

John F. Kennedy endorsed Medicare in 1960, and argued in favor of universal health care modeled on existing policy in Europe. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HI2iV6kbWBs)

Lyndon Johnson, in 1965, got done Medicare for the elderly, and Medicaid for the impoverished. I wonder what choice words he would have for today's debate? (Ronald Reagan, by the way, in 1961, was a spokesman for a campaign by the American Medical Association to block the passage of Medicare. Now, Republicans and Conservatives heartily endorse this vast government run behemoth called Medicare, and claim to defend it against cuts proposed by merciless Democrats. [http://pastinprint.com]) (http://www.lbjlib.utexas.edu)

Richard Nixon called for comprehensive health care reform in 1974: "Now it is time that we move forward again in still another critical area: health care. Without adequate health care, no one can make full use of his or her talents and opportunities. ... I proposed a major health insurance program to the Congress, seeking to guarantee adequate financing of health care on a nationwide basis." (http://www.kaiserhealthnews.org)

These presidents, and other less partisan advocates have insisted for decades that the United States will see its prosperity bolstered by universal health care. We are a step closer today. Thank your representatives who have the courage to support health care reform, and remind those who don't that they should. We need this. Now. It'll save money today, and grow our anemic economy tomorrow. Get with it America!

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