In 1948 President Truman, with a Democratic majority of both houses of Congress, set out to pass a health care program for all Americans. It did not pass. Why?
The AMA hired notorious political consultants Whitaker and Baxter.
With $3.5 million of the AMA’s money they launched a “National Education (or rather a miseducation) Campaign” to defeat Truman’s plan for a national Compulsory Health Insurance and buy Blue Cross/Blue Shield private insurance.
They generated a public crusade to fight for freedom of choice. Truman’s plan, they pointed out, would allow the US to drift towards socialism and Communism and lead to disaster.
According to historian Jill Lapore, an internally circulated CONFIDENTIAL- NOT FOR CIRCULATION plan was the real plan. “While the immediate objective was to defeat Truman’s proposal, it’s long term objective was ‘to put a permanent stop to the agitation for socialized medicine in this country by:
- Awakening the people to the danger of a politically controlled, government-regulated health system;
- Convincing the people…of the superior advantages of private medicine, as practiced in America, over the State dominated medical systems of other countries;
- Stimulating the growth of voluntary health insurance systems to take the economic shock out of illness and increase the availability of medical care to the American people.
“W&B pointed out, Basically the issue is whether we are to remain a free nation… or whether we are to take one of the final steps toward becoming a Socialist or Communist state. We have to paint the picture…in vivid verbiage that no one can misunderstand of Germany, Russia – and finally England.”
After the loss, Truman said there was “nothing to this bill that came any closer to socialism than the payments the AMA made to the advertising firm of Whitaker and Baxter to misrepresent my health care program.”