Republican President Theodore Roosevelt, out of office and running on the third party movement, the Progressive Party, in 1912, first proposed some form of national health exactly a century ago as part of his New Nationalism platform!
His distant cousin, Franklin D. Roosevelt, considered it as part of his New Deal in the 1930s, but it was controversial enough to promote Social Security, which was called “Socialism”, and bitterly opposed by most Republicans, and used as a campaign issue by Republican Governor Alf Landon in the 1936 Presidential campaign.
Harry Truman actually was the first to promote a program as part of his Fair Deal programs in the 1940s, but the Southern Democrats and the American Medical Association bitterly opposed it as “Socialism”, and it died in committees in the US House of Representatives and US Senate.
John F. Kennedy proposed what became Medicare for the elderly as part of his New Frontier, but it was blocked again by the AMA and the Southern Democrats who headed Congressional committees in both houses of Congress in the early 1960s.
Lyndon B. Johnson overcame the AMA and Southern Democrats, and accomplished Medicare in 1965, and the Republicans campaigned against it, but failed to gain enough support to repeal it
Richard Nixon had devised plans for more health care legislation, but Watergate killed any movement in that direction in the 1970s.
Jimmy Carter also had developed a plan for expansion, but faced too much conservative opposition and other issues and crises, which drew attention away from the idea.
Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton proposed a major government program, but it went down to defeat in 1994, with Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and the conservative Heritage Foundation proposing a “mandate” instead, which would allow private health insurance companies to profit from health care reform, but nothing was done.
And Senator Ted Kennedy fought the good fight for decades, and was at least able to see progress before his death in 2009.
And when Hillary Clinton, and then Barack Obama, adopted the Heritage Foundation plan in 2008, far less than the original Clinton plan of the 1990s, suddenly the Republican Party and conservative ideologists bitterly opposed it, as they still do, and their hope is to repeal the program declared constitutional by the Supreme Court this past Thursday.
So it has taken a century, and we are the ONLY major nation in the world which allows millions of people to be uncovered for health care, and we have the opposition bitterly trying to destroy it, including Republican Presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who actually promoted the SAME idea successfully in Massachusetts in 2006, but now is out to destroy “ObamaCare”!
What a history, and hard to believe that it would take a century, and still be a controversy in 2012!.