March 25, 2011

Dr. Morris Fishbein - the constant naysayer.

While the latest Health Care Bill celebrates it's somewhat shaky first anniversary, I'm constantly reminded of just how long and how vicious the fight has been to get some sort of, any sort of, decent affordable Health Care in this country. People continue to think it's something new or something cooked up by the Obama Administration and I keep saying over and over that it's not. It has a HISTORY and it's been going on for decades. Actually, if you want to get crazy about it, the argument has been raging for over 100 years (Teddy Roosevelt proposed it in 1909). But officially, or at least as far as recorded history is concerned, it's been going well over 70.

In 1948 President Truman, as part of his platform during that election year, pledged to bring about a program of National Health Care to cover everyone, regardless of income. And in 1949 the Five-Point Truman program on Universal Health Care was argued and, as I pointed out in earlier posts, the argument for it and against it went as far back as 1938 when FDR considered attaching it to his Social Security legislation of 1934.

So in 1949 the argument came up again and this clip, part of the University Of Chicago Roundtable from January 1949 illustrates that not much has changed.

Presenting the case was Nelson Cruickshank of the AFofL and arguing against it was the inimitable Dr. Morris Fishbein of the American Medical Association.

Nelson Cruickshank (AFofL): “Our people favor it, and we’re for it all the way for a very simple reason; that’s because working people in the main have found that, in an industrial society there are four main hazards that confront them. First is the hazard of death especially to the bread winner. Second, dependent old age. Third, loss of income through unemployment. And fourth, both loss of income through sickness and the cost of medical care. Now through private insurance programs and through old-age survivors insurance set up under the Social Security Act the first two have been largely taken care of. In a large measure the unemployment insurance programs carried on by the states, remove the risk of involuntary unemployment. Now workers believe that through a disability program the loss of wages through sickness can be met. And lastly that the cost of medical care, the severe cost of medical care that confronts workers can be met by the extension of these well tried and proven principles of insurance to meet the cost of medical care, and that’s why we support a health insurance program. We believe, and the Federation has stated just this week that there should be a broad national health program based on a system of health insurance covering a major proportion of the population. They have stated that it should include a provision for medical research, training of personnel and construction of needed health programs. They then proceeded to state five particular specific guarantees to provide that under the health insurance system the privileges of both those who provide service and those who receive them under such a program will be protected.”

Dr. Morris Fishbein (AMA): “The American Medical Association has consistently opposed compulsory sickness insurance under the government, first because it brings the government, as a third party between the doctor and his patient every time the patient sees the doctor. Second, it regiments the doctors and it regiments the patients. Third, it inevitably lowers the quality of medical service, and we have today in the United States the highest standard of medical service available anywhere in the world. Fourth, it introduces a powerful factor of compulsion on the vast majority of American people. Fifth, it is not insurance it is taxation since it involves a deduction from the workers wages and a tax on the employer equivalent to the deduction on the worker’s wages, and everybody now agrees that the system would be so costly that inevitably there would have to be additional funds from general tax funds to make up the total cost. And finally of course, these guarantees about which Mister Cruickshank speaks are utterly without any validity simply because, by regulation government can change a guarantee over night.”

The constant is the fear factor. The constant is the threat of Socialized Medicine. The constant is the lobby of the Insurance Industry. And it just never changes.

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