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The AMA’s defeat of President Truman’s health care proposal in 1948 Morlie L. Wang, MD MPH John H. Stroger Jr Hospital, Chicago.

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Presentation on theme: "The AMA’s defeat of President Truman’s health care proposal in 1948 Morlie L. Wang, MD MPH John H. Stroger Jr Hospital, Chicago."— Presentation transcript:

1 The AMA’s defeat of President Truman’s health care proposal in 1948 Morlie L. Wang, MD MPH John H. Stroger Jr Hospital, Chicago

2 What did Truman want to do with health care?

3 What did Truman want? National health insurance plan run by the federal government 1 Single Universal Health Plan 3 Protect against “economic fears” of sickness 1 Citizens would pay a mandated monthly fee in to plan 2 Public agencies would pay the insurance premiums of those too poor to pay for themselves 2 People would continue to get medical and hospital services as they currently do 1 Doctors should expect higher earnings 1

4 W-M-D Bill 2 Social Security expansion bill (WMD bill) first officially introduced principals of Truman’s eventual health proposal in 1943 –Senators Robert Wagner (D-NY), James Murray (D-MT), Representative John Dingell (D-MI) 3 months after the end of WWII, in November 1945, Truman officially called upon Congress to pass a national program to assure the right to adequate medical care and protection from the “economic fears” of sickness

5 Reaction to Truman plan Physicians: No –National Physicians committee –AMA –AMA House of delegates Public: Initially Yes –58 % approval in national polls 1

6 Truman’s plan associated with communism Senator Murray, Chairman of the Committee on Labor and Public Welfare, asked that the health bill not be described as socialistic or communistic during initial Congressional hearings 1 Senator Taft (senior Republican) said “I consider it socialism. It is to my mind the most socialistic measure this Congress has ever had before it” 1 Taft suggested that compulsory health insurance came right out of the Soviet constitution 1

7 Republicans in Congress call National health insurance a socialist scheme Republicans boycotted the Congressional hearings Eventually, the Republicans took control of Congress in 1946 and Senator Murray was replaced by Senator Taft A House subcommittee investigating government propaganda for health insurance concluded, “Known Communists and fellow travelers with Federal agencies are at work diligently with Federal funds in furtherance of the Moscow party line” 1 As anti-communist sentiment rose in the late forties, national health insurance became vanishingly improbable 1

8 AMA Fights Despite the setbacks suffered in 1946, Truman promised national health insurance during the 1948 election campaign –Following his unlikely victory in 1948, physicians were very concerned that national health insurance could come to fruition

9 AMA Fights In response, the AMA charged $25 per member to mount a campaign Whitaker and Baxter (public relations firm), funded by the AMA, mounted a nationwide public relations campaign against Truman’s plan Pamphlets, the Press, public speakers, private contacts Volunteerism “Would socialized medicine lead to socialization of other phases of American life?” 1 –The AMA’s campaign answered: “Lenin thought so” he declared ”Socialized medicine is the keystone to the arch of the Socialist State”. The Library of Congress could never locate this quotation in Lenin’s writings. 1

10 AMA Fights The AMA’s campaign, headed by Whitaker and Baxter, cost $1.5 million in 1949 –At the time, it was the most expensive lobbying effort in American history They were so successful in linking Truman’s health care plan with socialism, that even supporters of the plan referred to it at “socialized medicine”

11 Truman vs. AMA AMA wins –By 1949, public opinion polls showed only 36% of Americans favored health care reform (down from 58% in 1945) Truman’s health care bill did not pass

12 References 1.Social Transformation of Medicine by Paul Starr http://www.trumanlibrary.org/anniversaries/healthprogram.htmhttp://www.trumanlibrary.org/anniversaries/healthprogram.htm 3.http://www.pnhp.org/facts/a_brief_history_universal_healt h_care_efforts_in_the_us.php?page=all


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