When the House passed the Affordable Health Care for America Act, the current Congress became the first to make such a move toward fulfilling its promises of health care reform.
Although President Obama may be the first president to actually make progress toward health care reform, however, he certainly wasn’t the first to suggest a major overhaul of the system. Here, then, is a brief history of presidential health care reform efforts.
1912: As part of his platform with the Progressive Party, President Theodore Roosevelt promises national health insurance. He is defeated by Woodrow Wilson. That same year, the National Convention of Insurance Commissioners develops the first model of state law for regulating health insurance.
1934: The Great Depression demonstrates the need for secured health care, and President Franklin D. Roosevelt appoints a committee to investigate the possibility of including national health insurance in the New Deal. Ultimately, though, he abandons national health reform in favor of the passage of the Social Security Act.
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1935: President Roosevelt’s second push for national health insurance comes after the Social Security Act passes. However, despite the formation of the Technical Committee on Medical Care and a National Health Conference, Congress is no longer interested in further government expansion.
1944: FDR outlines an “economic bill of rights” in his State of the Union address, which includes every citizen’s right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health.
1945: President Harry S. Truman calls on Congress to reform health care. His plan includes compulsory coverage and more hospital construction. Opponents use the fear of socialized medicine and other similar scare tactics to defeat the proposals, and with the start of the Korean War, Truman isn’t able to regain ground his efforts.
1962: President John F. Kennedy proposes health benefits for Social Security recipients, but, again, the proposal is defeated by opponents.
1965: The Medicare and Medicaid programs are incorporated under the Social Security Act, signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson. Today, Medicare has almost 45 million beneficiaries, and Medicaid has nearly 59 million.