Eleanor Roosevelt Discusses A National Health Care Plan – 1950 – Past Daily Reference Room
Today With Mrs. Roosevelt – Health Care – February 19, 1950 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –
Former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt tackled the subject of Universal Health care in 1950. The question of Health Care and Health Care for All has been a subject of discussion, argument and attempted legislation for as long as our system of government has been around, undoubtedly longer.
Certainly from around the time of the Civil War, when a system of Tax was considered as a way to pay for waging of the war itself, discussing the possibilities of implementing and piggy-backing a government program to care for those who were wounded and in need of medical care and extending it to all Americans during the post-war period.
Later, toward the end of the 19th century when Teddy Roosevelt, along with sweeping changes to our system of inspecting our food and conditions of work, also proposed a Universal Healthcare system for all Americans to insure a healthy labor force.
When Social Security was introduced during the FDR administration in the midst of the Depression, along with many of the New Deal proposals, a proposal for Universal Healthcare was to be brought up and was seen by several legislators as a broader supplement to the Social Security Act. But was postponed until later.
That “later” was 1941, when the issue of Universal Healthcare was brought up and proposed, but World War 2 put it on hold until after the war. The issue became a kept promise by the Truman Administration after the death of Franklin Roosevelt and was brought up again in 1948. By this time the issue was muddled by the introduction of increasingly powerful lobbies on behalf of The Insurance and Pharmaceutical industries.
And again, a proposal for Universal Healthcare was brought up under the Kennedy Administration and later as a legacy by Lyndon Johnson after Kennedy was assassinated.
All the way up to, and including the Obama administration, proposals for Universal Healthcare were floating around somewhere on Capital Hill. The closest it came to actually becoming reality was when it was brought up and a somewhat watered-down variation finally passed in what was dubbed (or branded) “Obamacare”. Even though it was far from the envisioned system of Universal Healthcare sought by the previous administrations, it was considered “boilerplate” legislation, to which improvements and amendments would be introduced in the future. But it was the first positive step since 1909, when Teddy Roosevelt introduced the Pure Food and Drug Act and considered including a Healthcare proposal along with the package.
So Eleanor Roosevelt, as part of her “Today With Mrs. Roosevelt” series for NBC Radio and Television, discusses the issue of Universal Healthcare as it stood in 1950, again on the brink of a war in Korea only months later and put on hold.
Perhaps some day . .
Here is that episode of Today With Eleanor Roosevelt as it was broadcast on February 19, 1950.
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