December 01, 2009

100 years in the making


When it comes to public policy, it seems that windows of opportunity for action sometimes open--and sometimes they close. And if the boat is missed, it may not come back for a very long time.

Health care reform is a case in point. We now have one of those rare openings to significantly expand access to health care in this country. If we don't get it done soon, we may have to wait for years or decades to try to do this again...or maybe it will never happen.

The idea of providing some kind of system of universal care goes back in mainstream US politics to Republican president Theodore Roosevelt around 100 years ago. It was a plank on his 1912 bid for the presidency on the Progressive ticket.

It was part of his distant cousin Franklin's unfinished New Deal agenda from the 1930s. President Truman made a serious but unsuccessful push for it in the late 1940s, after which it lay dormant for decades.

The 1960s saw a significant expansion of health care with the creation of Medicare and Medicaid, which provided coverage for the elderly, the poor, and low income people with disabilities, although comprehensive reform remained elusive.

Another push for universal care began in the early 1970s and peaked briefly during the Carter administration before fading away again. It wasn’t until the election of Bill Clinton in 1992 that the issue again emerged, only to be torpedoed in 1994. Since then progress has been incremental at best, the most notable example being the creation and reauthorization of the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

The chance for reform has been nearly a century in the making--here's hoping we don't blow it this time.

THE BALANCING ACT between debt and recovery is discussed here.

MARKET FUNDAMENTALISM. Here's another whack at one of my favorite targets.

ANOTHER LOW RANKING. El Cabrero's beloved state of West Virginia doesn't usually do too well on state rankings for most topics. Here's the latest low grade.

GOOD-NATURED. Humans may have an innate urge to help, according to some researchers.



1 comment:

Hollowdweller said...

My great grandmother was from Richwood and her husband was killed in an industrial accident when she and my grandmother and her siblings were very young.

After the depressiona and then FDR she was a lifelong democrat.

When her youngest child went off to WW2 she moved from WV to Calif because he was there before he went off to fight the Japanese and became a lady riveter.

In her later years she lived with my grandmother in Nitro and would never speak a good word about any republican.

One day my grandmother was trying to convince her that there were a few republicans with reedeeming values and mentioned Teddy Roosevelt.

"He was a damn sissy" was her reply.