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Universal Healthcare: Political and Socialobsticals

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Essay title: Universal Healthcare: Political and Socialobsticals

Universal Healthcare:

Political and Social Obstacles

Many Americans are under the impression that the United States has the best health care system in the world. That may be true at many top medical centers but the disturbing truth is that this country, as a whole, lags well behind other advanced nations in delivering timely, effective, and affordable health care. This next presidential election might take the country in a new direction in terms of how our medical system is run. In fact “socialized medicine” has been mentioned numerous times in the current presidential debates. This is not the first time in American history that this issue has been brought up, in fact universal health care has encountered many social and political roadblocks, but it seems as if it will soon be feasible for America to adopt some form of European style health care. Why has it taken so long to realize the flaws of our current system?

Past U.S. presidents foresaw the problems that would arise with the American health care system, and they sought to make a change before Americans suffered. Unfortunately their ideas were not met with an open mind and ultimately were dismissed. In 1933, in the midst of the Great Depression, Franklin D. Roosevelt became president elect and it was his responsibility to ensure that the nation prevail during those times of hardships. He proposed a plan, the “New Deal,” which would reignite the economy and provide education and healthcare to all. Eventually, the US made it out of the depression and most aspects of the New Deal were implemented with success with the exception of healthcare. Harvey Cushing, Chief of the President’s Medical Advisory Committee, who was also once part of the Committee on Economic Security, strongly opposed the idea of governmental control over medicine. He met with Roosevelt the night before the signing of a bill that would include federal insurance as part of the social security act. Ultimately, whatever was said that night was enough to convince FDR to not sign the bill. Cushing was not a publically know political figure but he was once quoted saying this about universal healthcare, “The chief burden of expense, when the Government enters in, always falls most heavily on the … man of modest means…[Governmental health insurance] means an elaborate organization of persons to make the system work, and some form of racket will certainly grow out of it…and even should the state take it over, it comes out of my pocket just the same.”(Schulder)

Harry Truman in 1945 again would draft a plan to have a government run healthcare program, however this proposal would be defeated. Among many factors, the American Medical Association labeled the president’s plan “socialized medicine” taking advantage of the public’s concern over communism in Russia. Even though he was never able to create a national health care program, Truman was able to draw attention to the country’s health needs, and on July 30, 1965, twenty years later, Linden B. Johnson signed the Medicare Bill, which was built on the foundation that Truman put down so many years before. Twenty years is a long time for an important issue like healthcare to go unresolved and yet the country would continue to wait. It is surprising that even with the adoption and success of socialized programs like medicare, social security, and public schooling, the country and politicians would still hesitate when universal healthcare resurfaced.

As we have seen in the past, it has been nearly impossible for a politician to bring up socialized medicine to the public due to the stigma it has carried since the Bolshevik Revolution and the Red Scare (which were both times in history when communism was used as a scare tactic by our government). More recently it has been stifled by the corporations and conservative republicans who benefit by the current system. Nixon in an attempt to re-introduce the idea of government run healthcare realized, that these organizations are too powerful and influential. Even with escalating healthcare costs (partially due to unexpectedly high medicare expenditures), rapid inflation in the economy and expansion of hospital expenses and profits― liberals and work unions were some how convinced by these organizations that federally run healthcare was not in the “peoples” best interest. At this time medicine was growing by leaps and bounds and changes were made in medical care, including greater use of technology, medications, and recourses. This led to a conservative approach to treatment, which meant procedures and certain medicines were withheld from patients due to cost. American medicine was now seen as being in crisis.

By the 1980s there was an overall shift toward privatization and corporatization of

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