Debate won’t end soon
On July 30, 1965, President Lyndon Baines Johnson flew to Independence, Missouri, and signed Public Law 89-97, the Social Security amendments that brought into being Medicare and Medicaid. The setting was the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library, and President and Mrs. Truman were the honored guests. This signing culminated over 50 years of effort to legislate a national health care system. In 1912, Teddy Roosevelt proposed a plan, and his cousin FDR did the same in 1935.
Harry Truman tried and failed twice, and Jack Kennedy proposed Medicare prior to his assassination. In the ’50s and ’60s, Ethel Percy Andrus led AARP in the fight for Medicare. The 1964 election was a Democratic landslide, and LBJ had the political capital to pass the “Great Society” laws of 1965.
During his speech, following the signing, LBJ said, “And through this new law every citizen will be able, in his productive years when he is earning, to insure himself against the ravages of illness in his old age.” Of note was that there was no mention of Medicaid. The two laws were nicknamed “The Compromises and the Afterthought.” Part A was a compromise with the American Hospital Association. Part B was a compromise with the American Medical Association. Medicaid was added to the law at the last minute. It was felt to be a small and inexpensive addition to the legislation. Were they wrong. Medicaid was a state option and began on Jan. 1, 1966. Six states chose the option on that date, and their budgets exceeded the estimates for the entire nation. Alaska was the 49th state in 1972, and then there was Arizona. That is a whole other story.
Medicare went operational on July 1, 1966, and Harry Truman had Medicare card No. 1 and Bess had No. 2. Their Part B premiums were $3 per month. Things have changed.
Where were you on July 30, 1965? I was an Air Force captain and had just arrived at Yokota AB, Tokyo, Japan. I was supporting the 6091st Recon Squadron flying top-secret operations gathering intelligence about Russia, North Korea, China and Japan and preparing for my first assignment to Vietnam. I was not interested in health care policy in the United States.
Fifty-five years later, we still have Medicare and Medicaid and are still debating the future of health care in this country. The pandemic has made that debate even more critical and will be a part in determining the outcome of the Nov. 3 election. Don’t hold your breath that this 100-year-old debate will end any time soon. It will not.
Dr. Leonard Kirschner, MPH
Colonel USAF (Retired)
Commander USAF Hospital Luke (1983-85)
AHCCCS Director (1987-93)
Past president, AARP Arizona
Board of Directors,
Wickenburg Community Hospital
After reading David Compton’s nonsensical, hate-filled opinion, one of my favorite quotes, from one of our greatest leaders, Abraham Lincoln, comes to mind. “’Tis best to be silent and thought a fool, than to speak and remove all doubt.”
Deeper problem here
In response to Mr. Otis Perkins: Trump’s election in ’16 is a symptom of much deeper problems in our “capitalist democracy” or “republic.”
The ruling elites no longer have legitimacy. They have destroyed our capitalist democracy and replaced it with a mafia state. The commonwealth has been transformed into an instrument of naked pillage and repression on behalf of a corporate global oligarchy. Rich omnipotent masters who loot the U.S. treasury have perverted the judiciary, the media and the legislative branches of government to strip us of our civil liberties and give them freedom to commit financial fraud and theft. The media, including Fox, Democrats and Republicans, are complicit and are still blind to these reasons that brought us Trump.
It’s a class issue. If we stand up as the working class, for the working class, it will solve the majority of our issues. The media and the elite are scared of exactly that. They also don’t believe in democracy; never have, never will.
Land of the free
What’s all the fuss over a few people kneeling during the singing of our national anthem at sports events? Are we forgetting that “The Star-Spangled Banner” is all about our national flag as the unique symbol of individual freedom, as in this situation?
Pro-Americans can’t coerce other citizens to behave patriotically. It’s un-American. In our great land of the free, you may kneel, sit, stand or stand on your head. It changes nothing. Old Glory yet waves.
You gotta love this country—or not.