The problems of the American health care system have been with us a long time. In 1948 Harry Truman fought for National Health Insurance (NHI); in the 1950s and 1960s political efforts concentrated on Medicare, yet even that was viewed as a building block toward NHI; in the 1970s dozens of congressmen sponsored NHI proposals, as did Presidents Nixon, Ford, and Carter. Interest in health care reform, dormant since the early 1980s, has revived as the problems of inequitable access and of cost increases have grown.
In those earlier periods there was a consensus that we were close to enacting comprehensive national health insurance legislation. Though there were wide differences among the various bills, their very presence seemed
evidence that everyone agreed there was a real problem. It was easy (and, as it turned out, incorrect) to assume that such agreement would lead to enactment of legislation.
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