The History Of Medicare Essay

1329 words - 6 pages

The American Association of Labor Legislation was founded in 1906 by a group of physicians, lawyers, businessmen, professors, labor leaders, politicians, and social workers. This group of reformers first worked for State laws to cover workers hurt in industrial accidents, workers compensation. During the presidential campaign of 1912, Theodore Roosevelt advocated a wide range of social welfare programs. He was defeated and the White House with President Wilson was not interested.
By 1915 workers compensation laws were passed in 30 States. The AALL was inspired by their success and proposed a government health insurance at the State level. They drafted legislation to be presented at various ...view middle of the document...

This made the task of winning support for the proposal all the more difficult, and rendered it more vulnerable to the attacks of its opponents. Congress, the Supreme Court and leading constitutional lawyers interpreted the Constitution to leave the responsibility for social welfare matters to the States. Yet States were reluctant to take on the financial responsibility. Only the Federal Government would be able to achieve broad social welfare programs.
Interest groups play an important role in American politics. The success of any legislation campaign is ensuring the support of important interest groups. A dramatic polarization of opinion among key interest groups existed that has remained unchanged. The AMA leaned towards support and then backed out. Other groups changed their position as well. The American Federation of Labor president came out against government health insurance though the union rank and file supported it. The strongest opposition was of course from the insurance and pharmaceutical industries. The proponents were confronted by key interest groups.
Presidents can influence the public. Mr. Wilson opposed social insurance, Franklin Roosevelt was friendly but non-committal, Truman Kennedy and Johnson were active supporters. The climate in which legislation is debated is a changeable influence.
1920 and the postwar mood caused Americans to turn their backs on social problems. Economists estimated that over half of the American people had incomes below what was required to provide a modest level of living. The booming stock market masked a depression in agriculture, a lag in industry and rising unemployment. This was a seedtime of reform. Many private social welfare organizations were working to alleviate social distress. They did research, developed leaders, kept politicians informed and devised legislative proposals to be enacted in a more favorable time. The Committee on the Costs of Medical Care (CCMC) began looking at ways to finance medical care. The AALL worked towards support of other forms of social insurance. Private philanthropic foundations were encouraged to support a study of the Nation’s health. Beginning in 1927, over five years, the CCMC created a library of research and produced a final report recommending changes in organization and financing of medicine. They favored organized medicine, extension of public health services, group payment for medical care, large scale planning and coordination of health care and changes in medical education. What they proposed at the time was revolutionary. But the CCMC did not recommend compulsory government health insurance. The medical profession was used to physicians operating independently. The report alarmed doctors and got the AMA leadership up and actively working against the idea of institutionalized medical care. The gap between physicians and those outside the industry grew. The research collected would influence the medical community over the years and the...

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