With Dignity: The Search for Medicare and Medicaid

With Dignity: The Search for Medicare and Medicaid

With Dignity: The Search for Medicare and Medicaid

With Dignity: The Search for Medicare and Medicaid


"With Dignity is a careful and authoritative account of programs--Medicare and Medicaid--that have changed the life of America. It is an indispensable introduction to the dilemmas the nation faces in improving health care in years to come." Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., The Graduate School of the City University of New York


The Medicare bill of 1965 reflects a deep ambivalence that Americans have long felt about poverty. the traditional idea was that poverty was caused by personal moral delinquency. in the early twentieth century some social thinkers argued that poverty could result from other factors: ill health, unemployment, old age, widowhood, and disability. Judging from the tumultuous history of legislation when state and federal government tried to ameliorate those factors, it seems that many Americans were never completely convinced that poverty was not the fault of the individual.

It took a major Depression to pass the Social Security Act, which at least provided protection from poverty in old age and widowhood. It took twenty more years of argument to get a disability bill passed by Congress. Ill health took even longer. the majority of Americans still wait for a solution to the unaffordable costs of sickness and hospitals.

It was ironic that reform leaders in the 1920s predicted that health insurance would be among the first items of progressive legislation to be part of the Social Security Act. However, it was dropped by President Franklin D. Roosevelt and his advisors because they were afraid that it would hold back the rest of the bill--so great was American reluctance to interfere in the medical field.

Thirty years later Medicare required a bitter fight in Congress after a tremendous expenditure of money by lobbying groups such as the American Medical Association and the American Federation of Labor- Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO). Medicare copies the already successful Social Security program in using the social insurance . . .

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