The Benefits Of Health Care Reform
Kingsley A. Valentine
Composition II - 50 Everest University
The mounting cost of healthcare makes it one of the foremost social and economic issues facing Americans today. Working families are confronting double digit increases in the costs of health care insurance. Higher premiums, deductibles, co-payments and high unemployment are taking their toll on U.S. workers. Consequently, 47 million Americans are currently un-insured- 8.7 million of whom are children. The high cost of doctor’s visits and prescription are forcing many to delay needed medical care, as health care cost balloons five times the rate of inflation. Will health care reform solve the shortcomings of the U.S. healthcare system and extend coverage to all uninsured U.S. citizens? For many years, successive U.S. Government has tried to find ways to provide affordable health care insurance for all Americans. President Theodore Roosevelt made the first attempt to launch universal coverage in the United States. He was defeated in the 1912 elections, although he had the support of health care reformers. In 1933, during the great depression, Roosevelt’s cousin Franklin D. Roosevelt attempted to include public funded health care reform programs in his social security legislation. However, the American Medical Association (AMA) and its state affiliates, attacked those reforms as “compulsory health insurance” forcing Roosevelt to drop the health care provisions from the bill. As a result, organized medicine’s resistance to universal health care was feared for decades after the 1930’s.
In 1949, following the Second World War, President Harry Truman as part of his Fair Deal programs included a universal health care provision. This too was met by strong opposition which resulted in its removal from the Fair Deal initiative. Finally, in July of 1965, president Lyndon B Johnson signed into law, a social insurance program called Medicare that was administered by the U.S. government. Medicare provides health insurance coverage to people 65 years and older or people with special disabilities.
President Richard Nixon called for comprehensive health insurance in his 1974 state of the union address and passed the Comprehensive Health Insurance Act in February of the same year. The president’s plan was to force employers to purchase health insurance for their employees through a federal health plan similar to Medicare. Americans could join by paying on a sliding scale based on income. In his special message to congress, President Nixon stated: “The plan is organized around seven principles:
First, it offers every American an opportunity to obtain a balanced, comprehensive range of health insurance benefits;
Second, it will cost no American more than he can afford to pay; Third, it builds on the strength and diversity of our existing public and private systems of health financing and harmonizes them into an overall system; Fourth, it uses public funds only where needed and requires no new Federal taxes; Fifth, it would maintain freedom of choice by patients and ensure that doctors work for their patient, not for the Federal Government.
Sixth, it encourages more effective use of our health care resources; And finally, it is organized so that all parties would have a direct stake in making the system work--consumer, provider, insurer,
State governments and the Federal Government”.
In my opinion, to date the Nixon proposals seem the most affordable, equitable and the most likely to succeed. It bears a striking resemblance to some of the more recent proposals. I am surprised that they were never adopted. I suspect the AMA has a lot to do with its defeat. But who are the uninsured? According to The Census Bureau in the year 2007 almost 37 million of the uninsured were adults ages 18 to 64. More than 27 million of these individuals worked part...