Just when you thought that Nixon was the 2nd worse president in history (Bush now being the worse, atleast in my book), we are reminded that Nixon actually called for universal access to health insurance in 1974. And… low and behold, McClatchy reports that the Dems proposal look a lot like Nixon’s. Suck on that for a while, all you Republican’s who attacked Clinton’s plan as “as socialized medicine.” Clinton’s plan “bears a striking resemblance to changes that were proposed in 1974 — by the late President Richard M. Nixon.
“It was an extremely extensive plan, as I remember, that would have given universal coverage” for health care, recalled Rudolph Penner, a former director of the Congressional Budget Office and economic official in the Ford administration.
Nixon introduced his Comprehensive Health Insurance Act on Feb. 6, 1974, days after he used what would be his final State of the Union address to call for universal access to health insurance.
“I shall propose a sweeping new program that will assure comprehensive health-insurance protection to millions of Americans who cannot now obtain it or afford it, with vastly improved protection against catastrophic illnesses,” he told America.
Nixon said his plan would build on existing employer-sponsored insurance plans and would provide government subsidies to the self-employed and small businesses to ensure universal access to health insurance. He said it wouldn’t create a new federal bureaucracy.
The Nixon plan won support from a Time magazine editorial on Feb. 18, 1974, which noted that “more and more Americans have been insisting that national health insurance is an idea whose tune (sic) has come.”
Fast-forward 33 years to the American Health Choices Plan, which Clinton outlined Sept. 17, and to similar plans by Democratic rivals Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois and former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina.
A CBS News poll earlier this year found that 64 percent of Americans support federally guaranteed health insurance for all citizens. Clinton’s plan, like Nixon’s, calls for building on the existing private-sector health-care system and using government subsidies and tax credits to get all Americans under an umbrella of health coverage. Like Nixon, Clinton said her plan “is not government-run. There will be no new bureaucracy.”
Nixon’s plan didn’t require all Americans to purchase health insurance, as Clinton’s does, something that’s known in health-care parlance as an individual mandate. Clinton’s rival Edwards also favors government-mandated purchases of health care. Obama would mandate only that all children be insured.
Ironically Nixon even “sought help for small businesses and sole proprietors to pay for affordable health insurance” as the Dems are doing now.
Nixon bid for a plan of course failed, as others have since. McCaltchy notes that “despite the heated politics of Watergate, national health-care legislation was proceeding in Congress thanks to a compromise brokered by a young Democratic senator from Massachusetts, Edward Kennedy, a Nixon nemesis.” However, “according to a 1974 political almanac published by Congressional Quarterly, the AFL-CIO and the United Auto Workers lobbied successfully to kill the plan.” The unions had “hoped to get a better deal after the next elections.”
The rest was, as they say, history.
It’s time as we ready to usher a Democratic into the White House in ’08, that we ensure that universal healthcare finally becomes a reality in America.