Thursday, April 07, 2011

Stories from the Clippings

She'll Be Comin' 'Round the Mountain


Popping open a digital file of one of the pages of the first folio scanned, dated 1951, an eye catching title came into focus: "The Medical-Care Victory." With compulsory health care on the brain, I thought that maybe the article deserved a closer look.

The author proclaimed, in the words of the President of the American Medical Association, Elmer Henderson, "...that the fight against compulsory health insurance has been won...." But his declaration of independence from government control of the country's health care system was carefully qualified with a couple of buts and what-ifs.

Silence was the only evidence presented in the case: the "almost complete absence of agitation", a sign of acquiesence by the federal government and also by its citizens bore out President Henderson's contention, he claimed. The victory was won!

The medical profession spent $4,500,000 in a two and a half year campaign against universal health care. But the author said that there was more to the victory than a very expensive investment of funds supporting the fight against compulsory health insurance. The real hero here, he stated, was the spread of voluntary health insurance.

At the time, more than half the population of the US was covered by some type of insurance. The impetus for government sponsored health care in the first place was the fear of "sickness-caused" financial disaster. But the rise of the Blue Cross organization and programs such as prepayment of hospital fees, helped to alleviate these fears. Blue Cross alone, at the time of the writing of the article, covered 41,500,000 persons.

Physicians had something to do with the progress and public acceptance of health care systems that provided voluntary buy-in, they accepted and approved the health insurance companies.

Additionally, the AMA formed a committee of laymen who represented the various segments of society to keep a watch on the public's point of view, and if... if that viewpoint were permitted to guide the profession... never, ever, ever would this battle need to be fought ever again.

So here we are again...

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