Special Report No. 32
Executive Summary The Clinton administration has presented the American people with a sweeping health care reform plan. However, the general approach and ultimate goals of the plan are not new to the United States.
Serious discussion of compulsory national health insurance began to take place in the second decade of this century. By the end of World War I, suggestions had been made for comprehensive, taxA tax is a mandatory payment or charge collected by local, state, and national governments from individuals or businesses to cover the costs of general government services, goods, and activities. -financed health insurance coverage. The issue was revived during the early 1930s when many people argued that any national health insurance program should be federally-administered and compulsory. The concept was revisited periodically during the administrations of Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman. However, no legislative action was taken.
Nevertheless, for several decades the federal government has conducted a wide variety of programs dealing with specific medical problems and providing health care for certain groups. This role expanded significantly in 1965 when two broadly-based programs—Medicare and Medicaid—were created to assist the aged and the poor. Proponents felt that these two groups had inadequate private health insurance and that out-of-pocket costs deterred them from seeking medical care.Share