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For over a century, advocates for health care reform have attempted to change the laws of health care reform within the United States. With a few close calls and little to no change achieved the battles for health care reform and the explanations for their failures make for an interesting lesson in American history, philosophy and politics.
In the late 1800’s to 1912, the federal government left matters to the states and states left them to private and charitable programs. America did have some voluntary funds that provided for their members in the case of sickness or death, but there was no governmental or public assistance during the late 19th or early 20th century.
The starting point of our healthcare system can be found to the beginning of the twentieth century. Medical technology was advancing rapidly, and opportunities grew with them. Training, performance, and skill all improved substantially. Hospitals became centers for specialized medicine, surgery, and research. With all of this, the cost of medical care began to ascend and would continue to rise above the cost of living for the rest of the century. By the end of the 1920’s, both the middle class and the poor found themselves struggling to deal with growing medical costs.
In what was known as the Progressive Era, reformers were working to improve social conditions for the working class. However, there was no powerful working class support for social insurance in America and the labor and socialist parties’ support for health insurance reform was incomplete and disorganize. Therefore the first proposals for health insurance in the US did not come into political debate.
President Theodore was in power during the Progressive era and he championed National Health Care Reform because he believed that no country could be strong when the people were sick and destitute. However, Roosevelt was unable to get back into to White House and his most successors were conservative leaders that put Health Care Reform off for another 20 years.
Another attempt at health care reform came from the American Medical Association (AMA), an association of doctors, which were adamantly opposed to the ideal of government involvement in healthcare. The doctors understood that to a greater extent most Americans were unable to meet their medical expenses. In 1927 the AMA formed a Committee that concluded that private insurance was the best solution.
(History News Network, 2013) In 1929, Baylor University Hospital in Dallas began offering non-profit, pre-paid medical insurance to local schoolteachers for 50 cents per month. The program was so popular hospitals across the country started offering comparable programs, usually advertised with the symbol of a blue cross. That same year the stock market crashed and the Great Depression began, even as healthcare costs continued to rise.
The Blue Cross plans proved popular and hospitals began to unite together to offer...