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America’s Town Meeting Of The Air: “Does America Need Compulsory Health Insurance?” – January 1, 1940 – NBC Red Network – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –
America’s Health – it’s an issue dating back to the period just after the Civil War. It’s an issue that’s been brought up, argued, fought over and voted on by almost every Administration from Teddy Roosevelt on.
How does America take care of its citizens? Is it the responsibility of Washington to ensure every American has access to affordable and reliable Health care? Or is that up to the individual? How is healthcare paid for? How is the average American worker taken care of in times he or she is incapacitated and cannot work? Is adequate Health insurance only available to those who can afford it?
Endless questions and a myriad of answers ranging from “everything should be free” to “only those who can afford to pay for it qualify”.
In the days of The Great Depression and The New Deal, a proposal to include some form of Universal Health Care was proposed as a companion to Social Security by FDR in 1934. Caution and priorities prevented it from being included as part of the Social Security Act, and it was an issue that went on the back-burner until 1940 – around the time of this broadcast.
Nothing came of it at the time, and it was brought up again in December of 1941 – also via the America’s Town Meeting of The Air radio program. Only that time it was First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt who said it was time to re-address the issue. Ironically, the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor a few days later and our entry into World War 2 prevented the issue from consideration until after the War and a pledge by Harry Truman to re-introduce the idea before Congress as a legacy to the memory of Franklin Roosevelt.
But by this time, the Insurance industry and major Pharmaceutical concerns had become powerful lobbying entities on Capitol Hill, so any attempt at bringing about a comprehensive Universal Healthcare plan was prone to defeat, over and over again.
This broadcast of America’s Town Hall Meeting of The Air attempts to address the issue by raising the question if America actually needed some form of compulsory Health Insurance or not.
All this by way of saying the question of affordable Health Care is not a new nor controversial issue – it is one that has been part of the Great Conversation for well over a century.
So, even for 1940, there are familiar rings to this conversation – the issues haven’t changed – the lobbies have become more entrenched and the fight more intense. Still, the conversation continues.
Here is that broadcast of America’s Town Meeting Of The Air for January 18,1940 broadcast over the NBC Red Network.