Back in 1945, Harry Truman brought to the attention of Congress the need to help senior citizens with the problem of rising health-care costs.
Multiple bills and arguments were proposed and defeated in Congress, along with the cries of “socialism” and “communism” with the strongest opposing voice being that of the American Medical Association. About half of seniors did not have health insurance, while one in four went without health care due to cost concerns. Life savings of the elderly were lost to pay hospital, doctor and prescription drugs.
John F. Kennedy’s major campaign issue was the passage of a health care/Social Security program for seniors.
In 1965, President Lyndon Johnson, with the great leadership role and power from the labor unions, finally passed the Medicare bill. Not surprisingly, along with the AMA, those that also fought against measure were the National Insurance Association, the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association and the American Farm Bureau, to name the strongest.
Supporters were the AFL-CIO, American Nursing Association, National Farmers Union, National Association of Social Workers, American Public Welfare Association, the National Council of Churches and the Physicians Committee for Health Care through Social Security.
When the legislation was passed, there were no caps set on costs submitted to Medicare, therefore hospitals, most medical doctors and durable medical equipment suppliers raped Medicare with extravagant pricing, long unnecessary hospitalizations, overuse of health-care resources and fraud, bringing Medicare to its knees begging for cost-containment and help to prevent fraud.
Other opponents were Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bob Dole and Barry Goldwater.
To quote Goldwater: “Having given our pensioners their medical care in kind, why not food baskets, why not a ration of cigarettes for those who smoke and of beer for those who drink.”
We hear echoes of this today from conservatives raising the same cry of socialism, communism, and excessiveness to oppose the Affordable Care Act. Listen to your own common sense, and vote with your rational mind, not the ravings of the old AMA.