Sadly, Medicare wasn't to happen in President Kennedy's lifetime. It was a piece of legislation whose time had come and had been resisted as far back as the FDR Administration when it was initially considered as an adjunct to Social Security.
Much like the current Healthcare legislation, it had a history and a well heeled lobby working against it. Now Medicare is faced with being gutted by pretty much the same wolves in different clothing. But the same wolves.
At a Medical Care For The Aged rally at Madison Square Garden on May 20, 1962, President Kennedy spelled it out in no uncertain terms:
President Kennedy: “The point of the matter is, that the AMA is doing very well in its efforts to stop this bill. And the doctors of New Jersey and of every other state may be opposed to it, but I know that not a single doctor, if this bill is passed, is going to refuse to treat any patient. No one would become a doctor just as a business enterprise, it’s a long laborious discipline. We need more of them. We want their help, and gradually we’re getting it. The problem however is more complicated because they do not comprehend what we’re trying to do. We do not cover doctors bills here, we do not affect the freedom of choice. You can go to any doctor you want. The doctor and you work out your arrangements with him – we talk about his hospital bill. And that’s an entirely different matter. And I hope that one by one the doctors of the United States will take the extraordinary step of not merely reading the journals and publications of the AMA because I do not recognize the bill when I hear those descriptions.”
Fortunately, the responsibility of getting Medicare signed into law would fall into the lap of Lyndon Johnson. It was billed as a legacy to a fallen President.
Something to consider while slashing is taking place.
Newstalgia Reference Room with a JFK Press Conference from January 15, 1962 - covers topics ranging from Education, Berlin, Food For Peace Program, Civil Rights, Vietnam, Laos, and Medicare. Read more...
When Medicare Was The New Frontier. As the first cabinet appointee, Connecticut Governor Abraham Ribicoff became Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare in the Kennedy Administration. One of his uphill fights was for the passage of Medicare. Seems there was big resistance to that, even in 1962. Read more...