Critical Condition

On the Grinding Pace of the Health-Care Take-Over: A Historical Perspective

I’m not a Republican, but some of my best friends are, so I thought I’d investigate the claim that Republicans opposed the creation of Medicare and Medicaid. Well, what do you know: It’s not true. A narrow majority of Republicans in the House voted in favor of the 1965 Social Security amendments, as did almost half of those in the Senate. (Whether they should have opposed it is another question for another day.)

The 1965 amendments actually proved very easy to legislate, with over 70 percent majorities in both chambers. President Johnson signed the bill on July 30. No disruptive town-hall meetings or tea parties that August!

Although I’m pleased that the 2009 bill is taking a lot longer, I must confess surprise. Maybe Medicare did not launch us down the slippery slope to socialized medicine, as Ronald Reagan feared. Maybe its shortcomings have served as a warning. It’s too early to tell — but I’m optimistic.

— John R. Graham is director of Health Care Studies at the Pacific Research Institute.

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